Categories
Creative Writing

The Astrologist

After waking up in cold sweat yet again, I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid the inevitable anymore. I climbed out of my sweat soaked sheets and stumbled into the small bathroom. I started the shower, blinded by the darkness, and peeled off my pajamas before engulfing myself into the frigid water.

I decided that I couldn’t handle having these awful dreams any longer. I’ve had nightmares all my life, but this was different. These felt real. The darkness and demons were nipping at my fingers in the real world. I just wanted to know what the fuck was going on.

A gray sweatshirt and faded blue jeans awaited me from the pile of folded laundry in the corner of my room. The thought passed through my head that I should probably put those clothes away, but almost just as quickly I turned away from it and dressed myself. There were no clean socks though – I went through those too quick to keep clean constantly. I grimaced and pulled on my sneakers without socks, and grabbed my cell phone and keys, shoving them into my pockets.

I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up Miss Hall. I laughed a bit to myself at how secretive I was being – she slept like a log. Not even an earthquake could wake her up.

One thing I hated about living on Myrtle street was that the closest T stop was on Tremont. The winter was the worst – I had slipped and fallen on my ass several times. It never worked out in my favor.

When I got on the train, I headed towards Newbury Street. I hated that place – everything was way too expensive. The best place on that road was Ben & Jerry’s. I would pay for their over priced ice cream every single day.

I hopped off of the train and left the station, hands shoved in my pockets and my head up high. It was just instinct at this point.

Rounding the corner, I saw it. Trident. He would be in there. He always worked the Sunday morning shift at the counter. I only knew because he would come into school on Monday’s complaining about how tired he was.

That was a year ago, though. He could not work here anymore. Fuck.

I walked up to the door and opened it, greeted by a wall of staff recommended books. But my eye wasn’t drawn to any of them – it was drawn to the boy working at the cafe counter.

Evon DuPont. His hair was natural, a bright pink and white tie-dye bandanna wrapped around it. It was strange to see him without his denim jacket on – I hadn’t seen him in his work uniform before. Simple black print shirt and pants. He wore much more color usually.

There were only a handful of people at the counter. They must’ve just opened, because this place was always swapped. It was the off season though, most college students home for the summer.

Slowly, I sat down at the counter at the farthest end away from everyone else. I didn’t need them hearing my questions.

I distracted myself by scrolling through old text messages until I heard a mug clink down on the counter in front of me. When I looked up, there he was.

“Hey, my name is Evon. Anything I can get started for you?” He asked, much too chipper for 7 in the morning.

It then hit me that we hadn’t spoken since senior year Earth Science. He didn’t recognize me.

“Hey. I don’t know if you remember me, but we went to high school together.” It felt awkward reintroducing myself. “Hayden. Hayden Shelley.”

“Oh, no way!” His teeth shined in the yellow lighting when he smiled.

“Hey! I didn’t even recognize you. How are you doing?”

“I’m good, I’m good.” I couldn’t help but smile back. With his energy, there was no way you could be solemn.

“You got bangs, I like it.” Evon leaned his elbows on the counter. “How’s college been?”

“It’s been… great, Evon.” Lying to him about little things felt okay. “I was actually hoping you’d be here today. I wanted to ask you something.”

“What’s up? Oh, also, decaf or regular?”

“Regular.” I poured a small cup of cream into the mug when he was done. When I looked up again, he was talking with two of the other customers. I suppose I couldn’t be mad at him. This is his job, after all.
I stirred my coffee as if to pass the time. I glanced back up and he was replacing the coffee filter. He came back over after that.

“Do you want anything to eat? We have killer muffins, and we have avocado toast. I eat it way too often.” He chuckled and pulled out a note pad, taking his purple pen out from behind his ear and clicking it.

“A muffin sounds good. Surprise me. I just don’t like cranberries.” I leaned back again the back of the stool, gripping the counter as I watched him scribble it down.

“What did you want to ask me?”

I sighed, and after a moment asked him “Are you still into all that… stuff?”

Evon put his pen back behind his ear, asking “Stuff? You gotta be more specific.”

“You know… all that stuff… astrology, psychics, those things?”

Evon chuckled, walking over to the pastry cabinet and plopping a muffin down on top of a white dole. “I didn’t call myself the resident astrologist for nothing in high school.” He put the plate down in front of me and asked “You got a question about your compatibility with someone?”

“No, that’s not the part I’m interested in.” I took a bite of the muffin top.

“That’s such a Taurus thing to say, you know-”

“-What is this, poppyseed?” I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and coughed.

“You said to surprise you,” Evon said with a wink and a smirk. Then, he asked “What are you interested in knowing, then?”

I drank a shot of coffee, and then asked “What about dream interpretations?”

“Dreams? Oh, I love that shit.” He smiled and said “I got a handful of books and journals about it. I know a thing or two, if I say so myself.”

“I could… I could use your help.” I sighed and said “I really don’t want to talk about this here, though. I’d rather talk about it privately.”

Evon nodded and looked up at the clock hanging over the coffee station. “I get out of work at 2. Wanna maybe swing by my place and I can show you some of the stuff I got on the subject?”

I bit my cheek. Going to his house was not apart of the plan. I just wanted to talk quick – maybe next to the T station or in the comics section of the Newbury Comics. Not at his house.

“Yeah, that works.” I opened my phone and asked “What’s your number?”

He plucked it out of my hands and began typing. “I’ll text you my address. Wanna come by at like 3? I smell like coffee and stale doughnuts when I get out of work. I need to shower.”

I nodded a bit and took my phone back out of his hands. I looked at the screen and saw he had created his own contact and texted himself. At least it would be easier to talk to him then.

When he turned his back to attend to another customer, I pulled a 10 out of my pocket and put it next to the plate. I chugged down the rest of my coffee, burning my throat, and walked out of the store.

I hope he knows more than he seems to be letting on.

Categories
Bookish Things

Book Haul: June 1st

If you know me well, you know that I have no problem spending money. Whether it be on friends, family, or myself – no matter the amount of money in my bank account, I have never been able to refrain from buying what I want to buy. This has caused some problems from time to time, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Today, we’re going to talk about books. 

I like to call myself a ‘collector’ of books, because I have way more books in my collection that I haven’t read yet vs ones I have read (but, isn’t that what most book lovers are like?). On June 1st I went to Target with my brother to buy another book case, and of course I stopped by the book aisle.

I am going to take a moment here to say, PLEASE support your locally owned independent bookstores. My personal favorite shop is Trident Booksellers and Cafe in Boston on Newbury Street. I shopped at Target on this occasion because it was the only place selling books near me during a pandemic.

In total, I bought 5 books.

BOOK 1: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I have wanted to read this book for ages. I never had the chance to buy it, so when I saw it on the shelf (for 20% off – score!) I had to buy it. One of my best friends, Mikaela, read this book already and she told me how great it was. How could I refuse?

Here’s the summary of the book from the Amazon listing for anyone interested in reading it:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

BOOK 2: Fierce Fairy Tales by Nikita Gil

I had never been incredible interested in poetry, but when I picked up Greek Goddesses by Gil, I fell in love with her work. I know I’m late to the party, but Gil is nothing less than an amazing modern poet. I love fairy tales and their retellings, so I knew Gil wouldn’t disappoint me – I cannot wait to read this piece.

Here’s the summary from the Amazon listing:

Traditional fairy tales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

BOOK 3: Circe by Madeline Miller

I have been dying to read this book. Not only did I find the cover absolutely stunning, but I love learning about greek gods and goddesses. Madeline Miller is one of my friends favorite authors, but I have yet to actually sit down and read one of her novels. Circe drew me in faster than I could ever imagine. I will definitely buy another copy of this book in a hardcover, but for $13, I couldn’t not buy this copy.

Summary from Amazon:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

BOOK 4: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Genoff

I have a wide range of genres I like to read – anything from fiction, to fantasy, to science fiction, and even historical fiction. I can’t remember where I saw this book before, but I didn’t have time to think before I picked up the book and put it in my cart. My first major piece of writing I ever completed was a historical fiction piece, and I have fallen more and more in love with the genre since then.

Summary from Amazon:

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

BOOK 5: Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas.

I can remember the craze a handful of my friends were in when this book was coming out. I even let a friend buy the book through my membership at Barnes and Noble so she could get the book faster. At the time, I wasn’t super interested in reading the book – after all, a pandemic was starting to set in and I was being whisked away from my second home. However, Dante – one of my best friends – actually stopped reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo so he could read this piece. I saw it, and I had to buy it. This completed my Target book shopping excursion.

Summary from Amazon: 

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life―working hard all day and partying all night―until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose―to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion―one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom―and the power of love.

BONUS BUY: The Princess Diarest by Carrie Fisher.

When I got home from shopping, I checked the mail – I actually had a book in the mail! This book I had purchased online from Books-A-Million that was back ordered, so it didn’t come with the rest of my other books.

Carrie Fisher has always been one of my heroes – my badass space princess. When I learned she had a book about her diaries from the filming of Star Wars I knew I wanted to buy the book. I saw it whilst I was shopping for some LGBTQ+ literature and did not hesitate to put it in my cart.

Summary from Amazon:

When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Before her passing, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon was indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars.

And with that, my book shopping for the week came to an end. Well, not really – that grind never stops. Check back in next week when my next shipment of books come in: autobiographies, novels, and stories by POC authors.