Paper Hearts

Eliza moved into the new apartment complex opposite my own drab building. She started at my school but we never spoke; the different shades of our skin made certain of that. I studied her whenever I was able. It was her eyes that always held me transfixed; they were an amazing splash of green, swirling and ever-changing as tide pools at dawn. In their depths lay a sadness that I could never quite reach, no matter how I tried.

On the day I saw her crying by her open bedroom window, I felt the weight of the slate sky overhead press down. I had never before seen someone so forlorn. Although I lived a tattered, hand-me-down life, I dressed in smiles and was clothed in laughter. Eliza was always impeccably accoutered but I’d never heard a laugh cross her lips.

As I sat watching, she glanced up and our eyes met. Instead of looking away like she did at school, she held my gaze while unheeded tears fell. I was in a rowboat, being dragged into a maelstrom. Everything in me urged me to dip my oars and pull back before I was caught in the whirlpool. Yet, I resisted and stayed with her until the storm blew itself out. Finally, when there was nowhere left for it to run, I saw the cause of Eliza’s sorrow laid bare in the depths of her eyes.

I signaled for her to stay by the window and quickly gathered supplies. I worked diligently on a red magazine page, then folded a newspaper into a plane and loaded its precious cargo. Once I was back by the window, a flick of my wrist launched it out over the chasm between our worlds.

Eliza’s eyes traced its arc as my plane gracefully rose, then seemed to hang on a breath at the apex. Inside that pause, I lived and grew old in a world devoid of colours; I married for love, raised children who knew how to draw pictures in clouds and laugh until their bellies ached for release. As the plane descended, its cargo released, to fall as heart-shaped rain.

Laughter drifted like wind chimes at dusk and a sliver of sunshine broke through dark clouds.

Ryan Stone

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Addictions

I binge a lot.
Some weeks chocolate,
Sweet to fermenting.
Those weeks are good,
Except for the pimples
And a kilo or two
That inevitably hang on
And so, to forget,
I move onto whiskey –

Single malt weeks
Always start well
Before sinking down
To dark ports
Where I forget to forget

Until exercise weeks
Throw out a lifeline
And reel me to shore –
There’s a lot to be said
For green tea and carrots
And water; lots of water

Then, without warning, I wake up
One morning before my alarm clock
With nearly-clear eyes
That get me to thinking
Maybe I’ll call,
Tell you I’m well –

And it’s almost the truth
Until someone answers
With casual nonplus.
In the background your drawl,
From behind a cigarette,
Sounds of twisted sheets
And other things hard to forget.

Ryan Stone

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Williamstown Night

Fireballs on the harbour,
electric, neon light,
laughter floating on a breeze –
seductive voice, a Williamstown night.
Each flame a lifetime’s story;
kaleidoscope of dreams,
lovers and stolen kisses,
beggars, kings and queens.

A yacht sways on the ocean;
freedom opens her eyes,
seconds linger infinitely,
the moment comes alive.
Knowing eyes speak wisdom
and hint at the joy of living
the free life of the daring,
of a need so carefully hidden.

Ryan Stone

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