Last Night Before Florida
by Hannah Choi
Alex walked from room to room through the narrow dark hallway, turning on lights intermittently and staring at different scenes of unrest and various addiction, from dark to light and back again. His blue eyes bulged and, with intense longing, he stared at the man next to him, who was not next to him, but in his mind loomed beside and falling over soiled sheets spoiled over frameless mattresses. The back door was boarded with wooden planks and the windows were covered with heavy white paint. A sloppy forceful job. In the cramped living room, a large blue ball bounced from the wall to the floor, flying over his head, as the night resumed, and cigarette smoke filled the air, clicking off the light. Peanut butter in the bathroom, of sparkling marble tiles, and lines of coke neatly on the glass coffee table. An aerosol can of Pam on the radiator and cockroaches dancing in the sink. They were leaving for Fort Lauderdale in the morning and he couldn't help but say we sometimes, when it really was you. You guys not me...leaving him behind. Though he too would be leaving in a month, to somewhere else. He had not decided yet. But he almost wanted to say, why don't you stay? Why don't you stay and love me? I will love you. I already do. You already do. We understand each other even though we have only known each other for a very short time. Alex stared intensely at him, his blue eyes widening as he uncomfortably leaned in, as if almost forcing himself to keep away, his hands down, tightly wound in his pants, leaning in, pulling himself away, pushing his hair away from his face. He smiled and his lips softened.
It was warm in Florida, and rained in the afternoon, at this season. They would stay in hostels and would rely on the kindness of a city no longer cynical, opposite from home with all of its vibrant familiar confusion. On the beach, they would sit in their underwear dreaming of communal love and smoky sweet barbecues, while they stared at the unused cookery rusting in the salty water. Kiddie pools and foolish lifestyles. A dying breed. Opening into the arms of freak show pain and drama. Their lives unfolded, neat lines of sand made by the incoming waves. From the distance, boats sailed away with their white sails reminding lonely eyes of happiness.
There is no reason to say anything, no reason to stay. We have grown apart and why deny it any longer. I can accuse you of many things. And I can turn this ugly mirror back on you and make you see your true open face as is, and let you remember me as the one who shoved your face into the wet sand. But seashells broken along the beach prick my skin as they are pushed underneath, as I step. People change and become who they were in the first place, or who they had said they were, but weren't before, and are now. You never understood and that is what I have tried to tell you from the very beginning. It is not a bad thing. No sadness, no disappointment. Why do you keep forcing it? Do you see something that I don't see? Because I swear it, you don't.
From room to room where people no longer sleep, in this heroin den. Ghosts and children rest on mattresses without springs or any real furniture, except for that spectacular, ancient piece in the living room, with the miniature chandeliers, the wine holders, the fireplace, ornate drawers, black glass and gold inscriptions, and the mini bar that lights up when you open it, with the mirror in back shining soft lights and glitter on your reflection.
About the author:
Hannah Choi lives in Paris at the moment, trying to survive with her broken French and resilient shell. She received her BA in Literature and Journalism from Boston University. Her careers have been varied from publishing to child advocacy. This is her first publication.