Comparing Imagery and Mood


The leaves fall dead. Upon the frozen ground is where they now lay, withered and useless, no longer part of something big or beautiful. It’s amazing to think that when tree and leaf are combined, a spectacle of majesty is formed; when separated, both variables seem naked, cold… sickly. The foreground blends into the background as the canvas is washed in grayscale monotony. All the colour and life is sucked down beneath the ground, suffocated by the sleeping, white precipitation. As if someone were to imbue the very air with tiny little needles, it was difficult to breathe, for fear of the cold to choke your throat. The usual flowery smell that once lingered around the nostrils, was now too strong to even stomach. I daren’t sit upon my usual bench; the bench that told a hundred stories past, now just a few planks of wood nailed together and covered in frost. We have a lot in common: the bench and I. From where I stood, I could see the same old bird house, hanging from the same old oaken branch. The birds that lived there were probably far away from here for the winter. I wish I had more in common with the birds than a rotten bench. Where are the songs of magpies and robins? The music is replaced by whatever leaf one happens to step on: a crunch as the deceased flora take their final breaths beneath careless feet. All I could taste was the salt in my mouth from a runny nose and leaking ducts. How many more times was I going to wander down this same path, expecting it to be different each time?


Oh, what a wonderland. Snow as far as the eye can see made it hard to tell where the land ended and the sky began. Everything around me screamed of Winter. How differently the park seemed without colour, but it retained its own splendor even so. The naked trees stand like a flock of zebras lined up in one long row, striped and proud. They watch as their old leaves are trod on whilst they prepare to bloom green when spring arrives. The infectious sound of crunching prevails throughout the air, daring the passersby to rhythmically plan their next steps or keep to a steady metronome. Even if it hurts to breathe in the frigid atmosphere, I do it anyway just to take in the full aroma of old bark. If anything, the cold merely adds a bit of a kick to it. Never usually do I come here alone, but today felt like a better day than any to visit the ancient memory bench. It still was as I always remembered it; dented with age and marks which each told a story of their own, and I knew all of them. The layer of ice wasn’t enough to stop me from sitting down. I knew my trousers could stop most of the moisture from travelling to my skin, though I wouldn’t mind too much if it did. The birdhouse was still around too, hanging valiantly from the stalwart oak’s branch. The magpies and robins were away on holiday, soaking up the sun on southern beaches. I await their songs like an adamant fan, but for now, I shall simply hum until their return.


It was about that time again; University students often spent half the day worrying about school, and half the day worrying about what to make for dinner. Already five in the evening, and I still don’t know what to do. My stomach grumbles a storm, still grumpy from the morning of baby carrots and Dasani water. Hey, as long as it killed the hunger pains, right?

I had nothing in the fridge, nothing in the cabinets, heck, nothing hidden in the back-seat of my car either… which was odd. Sometimes, if I got lucky, I could fish out a packet of crisps from a forgetful Subway sandwich trip.

I sat my rear down at the desk, pulled back a drawer filled with menus, and laid them all out before me. “Greasy, greasy, greasy, healthy -but- boring, greasy… Perhaps I’ll just do pizza?” I spoke aloud. My self-conscious told me the right choice would be to pick something health; I -did- promise myself I would try not to pig out on as many carbs. Do I want that bikini-body or not?

As I reached for the menu of the local salad-extravaganza bar, the menu for Pizza Hut flipped over and covered the top of it. My heart leapt up into my throat for a sheer moment, until I realized the window was open. After dealing with the problem by shutting it, I returned to slide the Pizza menu to the side. Let’s try this again. I reach out to grasp the salad-bar menu, but this time, the 5 Guys menu dives in the way.

Abruptly, I stand up. The air conditioning had been off all day; the wind wasn’t causing anything to move. With fright spurring me to dash, I spin and flee toward the door. Before I could get my hand upon the doorknob, fast-food menus slapped against the door like a raining volley of ammunition. Regardless, I tug swing it open and charge toward the stairs. The menus cling to my body, making me run slower and slower. Each step forward caused my breathing to accelerate in exhaustion. The plastic, laminated material made my skin sweat and uncomfortable.

“Enough! Enough! Enough!” I cry, ripping each menu from my body to try and dispose of them within a garbage bin at the end of my apartment’s road. Goodbye burgers, goodbye fries, goodbye pizza, goodbye fried chicken. As each menu laid to rest within the bin, it seemed eternal.

I returned home, sweaty and unnerved, frustrated and tired. There sat upon my desk was one remaining menu.


Good Boy!

“Who’s a good boy?” Coos the voice of Young Master Mary. Every time she wiggles her table scraps above our heads, her pastel-gray hair springs up and down on her shoulders like the long, skinny noodles she often eats for lunch.

“Mary, stop feeding the dogs from the table, they’ll develop bad habits.” Says Master Mom. If there was one thing canines and Humans had in common, it was that the young typically looked rather similar to their parents. Master Mom, too, had springy hair, but it’s a much darker shade of gray, and always tied up on top of her head. She’d be a poodle in another life.

Whilst her bright silver eyes were distracted, my co-dog, Dude, leaps up and snatches that which my short, stubby little legs can’t muster a bounce strong enough to reach. I whine, widen my eyes, and then scoot up to the heel of Young Master Mary.

“Sorry, that was the only thing left on the plate. Gonna’ have to wait for dinner.” She apologizes, then contrastingly kicks me away with the bridge of her foot. This was a universal sign to all co-dogs that it was time to leave the food-room. Sometimes the Masters indulge me in a treat from the fridge if I dragged my wet nose across the tiled floor in my departure. They said it made me look sad, like I have ‘real Human emotions’. If Master Dad was at the gathering place for food, however, the chances of getting anything were close to zero. ‘He’s a dog, he’s food oriented.’ Master Dad usually says.

“Dude, you know that I’m Good Boy, why did you take my food?” I yap, staring up at the shaggy, ebon-gray son-of-a-bitch that was my co-dog. Dude looks like one of those bushes I typically pee on with my friends, and the cat, and the cat’s friends. If I focused on that imagery enough, I could distract myself from our clear size difference.

“I’m Good Boy now.” Dude says: his tone, gurgling and menacing: sounding like the machine our Masters use in which food goes in, but drink comes out after the loud growling finishes. In a fit of rage, I defy the preposterous words of the big pee-bush by leaping upon the leather couches in excitement. They were all pushed together, so my stubby little legs easily met each new surface. The light of the living room, dim as it is, caused me to stumble where vision lacked, but I continued my demonstration.

“You cannot be Good Boy! That is my name! That is my name only! They told me! I heard them! You cannot deny it is my name! Look at me! Look at me! I am Good Boy!” My yelling went on and on, crazed. Dude laid under the coffee table, crunching on the ends of his toenails with indifference. Each time my little paws hit the top of his shelter, he’d express displeasure through agitating muttering.

“Shut up in there!” Booms the voice of Master Dad, causing me to lose my balance a final time and knock over a cup of drink.

“Uh oh…” Dude says, scooting out from under the coffee table to watch from the hallway instead. I couldn’t move, the living room wasn’t a living room anymore; it was a crime scene, and I was the culprit! Getting yelled at by the Masters is the worst fate any co-dog can ever experience. Even though I wanted to run away, I knew Master Dad would find me anyway. There I sat, beside the puddle of drink I spilled. My beady, black eyes dart toward Dude; he watched me like a funeral attendee, or a vulture observing the corpse of a fellow vulture: conflicted in what to do.

“Bad boy!” Yells Master Dad. “You are a bad boy!”

Constriction with a Conscience

“Oh come on now, don’t do this to me.” No matter how many times or how many ways I sit down in grandpa’s old pickup truck, the damned seat-belt never wants to cooperate with me. I pull it slow, I pull it fast, it doesn’t matter. Heck, it doesn’t even matter -which- seat I sit in. The things are stubborn. Like tired old asses, the belts won’t progress a step forward or backward, they just want me to stay exactly where I am. They worsened over time, but in intervals.

The first time it came to my attention was when I dropped a nice, thick wad of hubba-bubba bubble gum straight into the buckle. I must have been about eight. Mum let me go on holiday with Grandpa for a week at Disney, but now it was time to go home. He spent two hours trying to get all the melted goop out of the button. It was a hot day and my sunburned skin stuck to the leather seats like syrup on a pancake. If it wasn’t for Grandpa putting on all those funny voices he used to do, I would have been totally miserable.

The second interval was my first day at High School (which I almost missed). Throughout the whole car-ride, I blabbered on about all the boyfriends I am bound to have over the next four years of my life. Grandpa kept shaking his head and telling me to put my studies before all that jazz. Once at the drop-off point, try as I might, I couldn’t get the belt to budge. “Oh for…” almost heard Grandpa swear that day, but I didn’t. The seat-belt confined me to my seat, wrinkling the brand-new clothes I bought two weeks ago for this day only. Eventually, I was released. Without even a fraction of a glance backward, I fled the scene in embarrassment, hoping nobody saw the struggle.

University-bound, was I, when the third hassle came. Mum’s busy working, and Grandpa’s truck is big enough to carry my futon in the back of it. I’m closer to him than anyone else in my family anyway, so I didn’t feel any misery from the lack of parent. “Think you’ll be coming back for Spring Break?” Grandpa asked. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of, “I just want to party!” Even if he laughed it off then, I wish I’d gone back for Spring Break after all. When we rolled up to my new dorms, I tried to unclip my seat-belt: it simply wouldn’t give out. The nerve and attitude of this damn contraption could put an angst-ridden pre-teen to shame. “You’ll have to take your classes in the car, I’m afraid.” Grandpa said after a good thirty minutes of trying to unjam the mechanics in the ill-mannered belt. Frustrated, I huffed without amusement.

Here I am now, at the fourth dilemma. No Grandpa this time, just me and the truck. Shortly after Spring Break his heart seized, then poof, out like a wick on a windy evening with a wide-open window. I stopped showing up to class; I stopped talking to mum; I stopped giving a damn. All I have left of Grandpa is a few pictures and this shabby pick-up. My intentions this evening -was- to drive out to the pier and drink to forget him, but the damn seat-belt won’t let me go. I tug and I pull, but it only tightens its embrace around me. As I scream out in grief and curse the way I never heard Grandpa curse, the belt pulls me in closer to the leather seats, where his smell still lingers.

Once calm, I decide against my evening of irresponsible intoxication and drive to my mum’s house. As I reached for the seat-belt, it clicked open without even the glimmer of a bother. “Thanks Grandpa.” I weep.

This One Time in Middleschool…


I once knocked myself out at a basketball match. It was funny, I guess. Funny for the people watching. Funny for the coach, heck, even the mascot found it funny. I wasn’t even on the basketball team; I was just someone in the audience that came down to try and win a free tee-shirt. It was probably just going to end up a sleeping-shirt anyway, I’m not a triple-extra-large, in truth. I found the best way to make it all go so wrong so fast. There was a little trampoline a few meters from the post of the net. The goal was to jump on it and propel the ball toward the large circular goal. I say large, because it was. How hard could this be? Running like a cheetah (an overweight retired one), I leaped upon the trampoline and sprung into the air. Or at least, I would have, if I didn’t land on it funny to begin with. To cut a short story shorter, the trampoline slid backward and I shot to the ground like a faulty missile. The ball flung from my hands, hit the bottom of the basketball hoop and smacked into my face. The laughing of the crowd turned into what could be described as crashing waves at the beach. My dizziness couldn’t quite piece everything together, so I remained there while my half-concerned half-giggling parents attended to me. My adolescent pride was snuffed like a burning wick, attributing to much of my awkwardness in the later years of my life.

The Witcher’s Warning

For soothe! fiendish felon,

draw back your claws and terrible maw.

Return to your dwellings below the floor,

where the earthworms squirm and eat dirt.

Don’t challenge me or you’ll exist to be

the bothersome beast that you are.

Limb for limb, I’ll tear you apart,

until there is naught left of you

but your grin laying on the floor,

impaled by my righteous sword.



My heart

How it beats like an African drum.

A perpetual thud,

Like hundreds of tiny trotting horses,

Racing to no end.

Like thunder booming from the heavens,

Beating the clouds.

Quell this wild, wild heart before








Passive to Sassive

In this piece, I had to relate my life to a song, so I picked Grace Kelly, by Mika.


It was bound to happen: the moment I snapped. Like a bull tired of being teased by the matador in a ring surrounded by crowds against it: my vision went from colour to red alone. I remember it so clearly, the day the last straw was added to the camel’s back. When I arrived in America six years ago, I was sure I had the right mindset to make friends and keep them: a feat I’d never been able to sustain before. I joined a choir, believing that people that sang in a choir would be kind and easier to get along with.

Two notes: Filtering is bad, and choir people are mouthy for a reason. “Aww! She sounds so cute!” came a chorus of reactions whenever I asked our instructor to repeat a few notes on the piano (pun intended). That was the first lance in this bull’s hide. “So like, I guess you’re a big Beatles fan?” was the second lance; I only know the songs ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Twist and Shout’. The third and final was when three sopranos asked me to join them for lunch, which simply turned into a show-and-tell. “She says things really weird, it’s so cute.” “Say that thing again.” I humoured them, but after that lunch, they never invited me again.

I became ‘British’ instead of ‘Gabby’. Nobody wanted to know more about me as a person. I hated being asked questions about England, I’ve never even lived there! I grew up in the Middle East and consider myself Arabic more than anything else… something nobody ever learned about me. Forget the Beatles, I like to listen to belly-dancing music, Mosque singing and Arabic instrumentals.

When the third lance was driven into this once, passive beast, I knew then I would never go back. “Do I look like a doll with a damn string to pull at the back?!” I remember telling anyone that asked me to say ‘funny British words’. “No, -YOU- sound funny!” “Pay me first, then I’ll think about being your little side-show act!” Oh, the sass! Oh, the freedom! This bull was on a rampage, sparing nobody in its path!

“I could be brown, I could be blue, I could be violet sky, I could be hurtful, I could be purple, I could be anything you like. Gotta’ be green, gotta’ be mean, gotta’ be everything more. Why don’t you like me? Why don’t you like me? Why don’t you walk out the door!” These are lyrics from Grace Kelly, by Mika. It portrays the excessive change someone can go through to make them appeal to others. But when you mold yourself to try and make other people like you, and it still isn’t good enough, that’s when you cast your middle-most fingers to the sky and kiss them goodbye!

-Do You-

-Be Happy-