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Nocturnal Journal #6
Fiction & Poetry Newsletter by Ecem Yucel
Ode to Spiders
They follow me everywhere,
whether I live on the ninth floor
When the snow melts away
and the Spring finally comes,
they come too–
to weave their sticky, silky nets
outside my window,
which would have been cleaned
the previous day —like they know!
Usually, at first, there is one,
then a second one joins,
and one day, when you’re not looking
they somehow multiply:
five, six, maybe even seven
spiders on their hurriedly woven
yet, still, socially distancing
they leave their nets unattended;
just like the guests of a hotel
who would go hiking to see some touristic spots
the city they’re vacationing has to offer
or who would spend the day at the beach
swimming and sunbathing.
But around sunset,
after taking showers to wash off the salt
from the sea and all the sweat,
then, rubbing aloe vera lotions on their sunburns,
doing their makeup, combing their hair,
donning wrinkled summer dresses which have been waiting
in the darkest, deepest drawer of the wardrobe
during the last three seasons,
spraying a cheap, citrusy perfume that would suit
the spirit of Summer
behind the ears, kneecaps, then on the wrists:
-no, no don’t rub your wrists together
you’ll break the perfume’s molecules and ruin the scent,
that’s not the correct way to wear perfume-
and wearing flip-flops:
-Spence, please stop dragging your feet
you’re embarrassing me
in front of other hotel guests-
-But dear, I still can’t get used to
the sensation of having something
jammed between my big and second toes-
they come down to dine
on the tables set by the illuminated
There’s an open buffet:
-Look at those fruit flies honey!
They look so delicious-
-Spence, please don’t eat much
you know how it affects your bowels-
-I’m on vacation, woman!
Leave me alone for once-
-That’s it, don’t come crying to me then
when you can’t hold your ass-
By eating up the whole net full of
flies, fruit flies,
and other unlucky, little insects
in a night,
they engorge themselves:
to slide down creepily
and create a diversion,
to weave their nets faster,
to fight with the bees
and other sassy spiders,
to rule the world
from my window.
They follow me from unit to unit,
whether I’m on the ninth floor
spiders follow me everywhere,
and every Spring,
my windows are covered in webs
The First Date
I was against the plan from the beginning.
You were dating that colorless, weird girl, only to spite me. Since I had given up hope on you, I thought I had to move on too. So, when your best friend asked me to date him, I said yes. He was handsome, popular, kind, and sweet. I believed him when he said he liked me a lot.
Yet, he was a fool to arrange a plan like that. Every day, after school, he would walk me home. Walking together wasn’t enough, so on a Monday, he asked me to go on our first date on Saturday. He said some of his classmates planned to go to the big park on the sea cliff, for a picnic. He wanted us to go too. Alongside with ten people, including you and your girlfriend.
As soon as I heard his proposal, I said no. I wasn’t going to spend my first date with him next to you and your girlfriend, for whom you left me. Everybody knew I still had you in my heart and I was trying to move on. Also, I didn’t trust myself. Being near you, all day, at a park on a cliff, with the view of the Mediterranean Sea, was too much for me. What if I slipped? What if I’d be too busy looking at you, so I wouldn’t see my date at all? I said no.
He tried to convince me all week. I think he wanted to show you I could be his girl; thus, he would beat your arrogance down. I guess he also wanted to show me that even when you were near, I wouldn’t bother with you anymore because, now, I was dating him.
Was it because of his insistence? Or did I also want to prove myself that I could get over you? I don’t know why I changed my mind. But in the end, I said okay. He rejoiced. Told me everything would be amazing. We were going to have so much fun together. With the Mediterranean under our feet, it’d be so romantic too.
I got anxious. Tried to ignore the other me in my heart, telling me I said okay because I wanted to see you, spend a day near you. After all, it had been a long time since I got to hang out with you.
Saturday came. On my way to the park, I was so nervous, thinking something would go wrong. I met him, you and your girlfriend in front of the park. He hugged me to say hi, and over his shoulder, I saw that you winced.
He seemed happy at the beginning, introducing me as his girlfriend to his friends, to you. As if he was challenging you, with the fact I was his girl. Little did he knew I wasn’t. I only had been your girl.
You were such a bastard that day. Although we weren’t on speaking terms for the last year, you treated me so great all the time. You talked to me more than he did, you made me laugh many times. You were always near me. Engaging me. Even when your girlfriend acted like gum that stuck to your hair, you didn’t care. My boyfriend gave up and stood aside to watch us after realizing that you were the only one I saw. I didn’t even notice he wasn’t with me when I was talking to you, or laughing at your jokes. When we all sat down at a picnic table, you sat next to me. He had to sit across the table.
I don’t know if this was a power war between you two, or if I made you win it, the way I acted. It was just… it had been so long since we talked this way. The knots in my heart took only a little smile you sent my way, or a few warm words filling my ears, to become untied.
Then came a particular moment. A moment when the orchestra reached the peak of the symphony. We were walking and saw a giant rock. A friend challenged everyone to climb it. Your girlfriend climbed it after some people from our group. You followed her. It was my turn. I attempted to climb, then I saw you, standing at the top, watching me.
A second later, you gave your hand to me. I looked at you for a moment, surprised. “Take my hand,” you said, smiling, looking deep into my eyes. I didn’t need help nor was I the damsel in distress. I could climb it like a cat, even faster than your girlfriend, if I wanted to.
Yet again, your hand was so white. Your smile was so inviting. And I saw in your eyes it was just an excuse to hold my hand.
I gave you my hand, without taking my eyes off of yours. You grabbed it tight and pulled me up. I stood at the top of the rock, next to you, my hand in yours. We looked at the view of the endless Mediterranean Sea. It was how we both allowed each other to hold hands for a few seconds longer. You looked at me, and I at you, more seconds passed. Maybe five, maybe ten. You and me, at the top of a giant rock, holding hands, soaking in the sunlight of each other’s faces. I didn’t know where my boyfriend or your girlfriend was. Probably watching us down there, somewhere. Witnessing that we still loved each other. Unable to stop ourselves.
I didn’t want to live through the moment you let go of mine, so I let your hand go first. I climbed down, knowing I wouldn’t be able to pretend anymore. I loved you, and it wasn’t yet the time for me to move on.
The moment I saw his face, I decided to leave. He was sitting on a stone step, a bit away from me, watching. He had these beautiful hazel eyes which seemed green in the sun. But the sun on his face brought out other things than the color green. I saw how heartbroken and hurt he got. It stuck with me. Years passed, but I still vividly remember the sight of his face. Maybe the faces of the people you broke get engraved in your mind. Or maybe it is because his was the first heart I unintentionally broke.
It was pointless to console him. How could I console him when we all knew I was in love with you? When I was the one who needed consolation? In those days, I wasn’t good at lying or pretending. I knew he just wanted me to go to him, be on his side, hold his hand, laugh at his jokes. Maybe run my hand through his hair. Talk more than two words with him.
He seemed like a little child at that moment, who wished to be loved by me.
The more I stayed, the more you would use all of your charms to keep my heart and mind occupied. The sadder and more disappointed he would get. I had to leave there, leave both of you behind.
I don’t think I even told him or you that I was leaving. I just did. Quietly. Walked away from both of you.
Two hours later, I saw him approach. I was on a swing, deep in thought, in a playground near both our school and his house. He was going home. Sad. Alone.
“If you didn’t want to date me, you could’ve just told me,” he said, passing by me.
“We shouldn’t have gone to that park with them today,” I said.
He didn’t look at me, nor he replied. He just kept walking. The gravel crackled under his slow, heavy, and defeated steps.
I could see even from the back of his head he knew I was right.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to read more poetry from me, please check out my new poetry book ‘The Anguish of an Oyster’ here.
You can also check my website for more information.