Just Words

Amanda Rose Berg

Too wordy, too long, too everything. The syllables stay on your tongue for just a second longer than they should, full of jagged edges that sound too rough. Full of colors that clash violently with no enthusiasm. My first name is all right, I suppose. It's plain and ordinary. My middle name stands out awkwardly, like polka-dots and zebra stripes. Like the flashing neon of a motel sign on a dusty road that no one travels. My last name is just too short, like a poem someone forgot to finish writing. It is a painting someone forgot to paint.

But I like to think that they're just letters, letters that make up just words. Words that can just as easily be broken, changed, and redone.

These words don't tell you who I am. After all, I'm not made of words. If you take them away, I'm still there. Just nameless, and maybe nameless the best way for me to be. Because words are just words and words don't last forever.

Tired Houses Can't Learn New Tricks

My house is only seventeen years old, but it's ancient. Poor little house, forced to grow up too fast, just like me. You've heard too many arguments, and too much shouting in your short lifetime. Far too many tears have fallen on your carpets. There's too much anger trapped between your walls, and anger stains things black. Anger is hard to get rid of. But it hasn't all been bad, has it, little house? You've heard laughter and seen smiles reflected in your used-to-be shiny windows. I know so because I've seen them. Life's not all bad, little house. I know we've made it harder than it should be. But don't worry, little house. We've both got a long way to go before the end.

Spider Web

My neighborhood is a spider web, all tangled with beauty and secrets. But lies are caught between the threads, cleverly masked with well-watered lawns and spring gardens full of flowers so beautiful they can't be real. So full of secrets we stumble around blind because we're too polite to open our eyes.

Because who are we to tell?

Sometimes I wonder if they see as much as I do. Do they notice the family who lives on the corner, with the little girl who goes out to play every day without fail, even when it rains? Her laughter is innocent, and she's not afraid to dance to music that isn't there. Sometimes I wish I could dance too.

Do they hear the boy play his guitar across the street with the windows wide open? His songs sound like silver. Like laughing so hard that you cry for no reason at all. Like talking just to hear the sound of your own voice. But sometimes when he plays, it's sad, like the music is trying so hard to be happy but it can't.

It's noisy like the silence.

Does he see his brother sneak out at night when even the street lamps are too tired to shine? When the darkness is so thick that they're only dying embers? He climbs out, a raccoon, all wide-eyed and skittish like the trees might tell his secrets. I often wonder where he's going. I wonder if he knows.

There's a mother who lives close to us who loves to talk and talk and talk. She raves about her a son. A star athlete and a gentlemen, she says, pride bursting like firecrackers from her eyes. Maybe she doesn't know. Doesn't know that her son smokes cigarettes early in the morning when his breath is just white smoke casting a cloud of oblivion over the driveway. Who goes to parties late at night and comes home driving backwards. It is a fog that can't be lifted. Maybe that's why she doesn't see. Or maybe she just doesn't want to.

I won't be blind.

I won't.

But who am I to tell their secrets?

Nobody nobody nobody,

that's who.

I am the Listener

You ask who I am. I say I'm the listener. The one you spill your secrets to when the burden becomes too great to bear. I don't mind, really. I'm glad to help. Don't worry, don't worry, I won't say a word. Your secrets are safe, inside my mind, inside my heart. I'm the only one with the key. I am the listener.

I'll always be the listener, but I fear that one day I might crack. Sometimes my heart is so heavy with secrets I think that it might drop straight down to my feet. What then, what then? What if I open my mouth and secrets come pouring out like rain and I can't stop it?

I'll just have to try harder, I suppose. Because after all,

I am the listener.

Just Across the Bridge

Sometimes I wonder if there truly are such things as soul mates. A person whom you are destined to find, whom is destined to find you. It seems preposterous, ridiculous, unfathomable even. The world is just too big, and you my friend are just too small. Just one out of billions and billions. You're just one star among a galaxy you can't begin to comprehend. Or so you and I might think.

Is there a soul mate for me, I wonder? Will we be alike in every way or will we be worlds apart? If I ever meet them, will we talk for hours and hours, or will we be content with simple silence between us? Will we stop long enough to listen?

Questions, questions, questions with answers so far away they seem beyond my reach. But perhaps Richard Bach was right. Maybe there is a bridge across forever, one that ties us together even across time itself. Even across the longest forevers. Maybe someday I'll cross my bridge and see what's waiting on the other side.