Beneath the Surface

We are swimming on the face of time and all else has drowned, is drowning, or will drown. - Henry Miller


1. I

What lies on the outside, differs from the inside. I look and see variation of skin, from Brown to white, and freckles forming constellations to bare skin. I see the various artworks spread across each canvas, but only what is painted for viewing. The rest cannot simply be seen.


Pink and orange streaks are painted among the blue sky as the sun starts to set in the west. The seagulls head home as the night begins. There is  something in the air that is quite peaceful yet unsettling. The water remains cold and empty. Immense waves roar through the ocean, pushing and pulling every part of me. I can hear my head pounding and every cell in my body screaming for oxygen. The pressure deepens in my chest as the last bit of warmth reaches my skin. I can no longer hear the sound of birds chirping to their loved ones, or kids screaming to their parents about how much they don't want to leave. The final rays of light peak through from surface as the darkness engulfs the night sky. Its peaceful. No school, no parents, and no pain. This is it. 

"Emiliano wake up! This is a lecture hall not a napping class." A harsh voice screams, jolting me awake. I peak around and I'm greeted with a furious Mr. Croft as laughter erupts throughout the class. "Sorry sir, won't happen again.' I respond immediately straightening up. He mumbles inaudible words but resumes his lecture on the human brain. Rushing to get back on track, I gather my notes up and start filling in what I've missed. 

The study of the mind and its functions. Funny that is, if only we knew what runs through everyone's mind. It would be detrimental and society wouldn't be the way it is. There is no way to tell how someone truly feels & thinks, unless they tell you, but even then that could never truly measure up to what really goes on inside. We see what they want us to see. It is simple, many may see that I laugh & smile, and can assume I am content. We assume people's mental stability by their present emotions, when in reality we are barely scratching the surface. Maybe I am laughing because I want to cry and don't know how else to display my emotions without causing too much attention to myself? When someone notices a girl crying, they automatically assume she is an attention seeker. That may be true, but what if she's been holding emotions in for so long, that finally she just broke? No one cares to see how she is, we see it as assisting the girl who cried wolf. Maybe she just needed someone to check in on her. What is painted on the outside can never truly reflect what is on the inside.

The bell rings interrupting my thoughts. Collecting my belongings, I head out to the lobbies. I've never been so eager to head out of class. My eyes sweep the halls looking for a near exit when instead, they land on her, standing over in the corner shoving her bag full of books. It's been a long time since I've seen her in person, yet she's been here all along. Her brown hair covering her rosy pink cheeks as she concentrates on the screen in-front of her. A breath hitches in my throat as she looks up in my direction but quickly diverts her attention to her phone. In the moment which was only a mere few seconds, felt like days. Oh her brown eyes, I'll never forget her brown eyes. The golden color much like the gold everyone so desperately tries to dig up from the ground, provide some sort of comfort to anyone who dares to hold her gaze.  "Hey Emiliano, are we still on for tonight?" Dario interrupts as he steps into my view of her. "Tonight? What's tonight?" I say as I gaze across the hall at her as she hastily starts to vanish from my view. "The pregame match? Remember we agreed on meeting up to shoot around before the big game tomorrow?" Dario says annoyed. I shake my head in objection. " Change of plans, I can't, my dad wanted to meet for dinner, and you know how he is." I speak, pulling out my phone as it vibrates. Dario looks at me in disappointment but nods. 

Dario has always been my best friend since grade school. We met through our dads, whom my dad was his dads boss. We started playing soccer together at the age of 8. Dario knew how strict my dad was, especially when it came to being on time to important family dinners. He knew it was important if my dad even planned on a dinner, considering he was always busy. We once made that mistake of ignoring my dads wishes, to go play soccer, we were totally in for it when we arrived back to my house. I can remember the look my dad gave me the whole night, it was almost like i had satan himself sitting across from me. Dario was understanding though and never questioned me if it has something to do with my dad. Saying our goodbyes, I open my phone to a missed call from dad. Dialing his number back in fear of what he would say because i missed his call. "I swear I'm on my way" I say as he picks up the phone. "There's no need, I have to cancel, work called in, we can reschedule for tomorrow. " He says, immediately I sigh knowng this might happen. It's not the first time he cancels, so I'm used to it. Without my mom around, it gets lonely though."Yeah no that's cool, I'll see you at home." I respond as I head into my car. Hanging up the phone, I sit in the driver's seat of my jeep. No surprise there. That's all it ever was, work work work. I should have just left state the moment I graduated from high-school.  I wouldn't feel so trapped, i'd be free: Free like ocean waves. I don't think I could actually ever really leave the beach scene though. The ocean, it's my home, the tides and waves make me feel alive. Jumping into the waves and standing up on my board, its exhilarating. I forget everything troubling me, it's truly euphoric. No more worries of being the perfect son or perfect student. It all goes away.

I start my drive off campus and head towards home. Within minutes I pull up and i am greeted by Chad, the door man. Exchanging quick hellos, I rush into the house and throw my belongings into my room. Now's the perfect time, i think to myself. I rummage through my drawers for my swim shorts. Retrieving them, I grab my board & I head out back. The best part about living on the beach is having the ocean in your backyard. Waking up to the smell of fresh ocean breeze. The air is cool yet warming during this time of day. Immediately settling in to the water, I start to paddle out to surf. The cold water splashes onto my chest causing goosebumps to rise. There is nothing to feel anymore. The ocean can be so cold, it completely numbs me. It takes away the feelings I have bundled inside. Standing on the board, i start to ride the wave. focusing in on the wave i can feel myself become shaky. What is going on today? Losing grip on my board i wipe out, falling into the oceans currents. Surfing has always been my get away. It was that safe place, away from school, and parents. Just me, my board and the waves, but today is not my day.

Immediately grabbing ,more board and coming up for air, i start pulling back into the shallows. Feeling the sand between my toes as i climb ashore, I sit and stare at the sunset. What is it about the sunsets that make them beautiful? Maybe it's the colors and the warmth it brings to my cold body. Maybe it's the way many admire it. They say only sad people love watching the sunsets. But what is it that makes me so sad? Words can never explain the feelings surging through me. When I try to even think of words to describe my emotions nothing can even come close to the real emotion. It's like I'm stuck. Just me in my head with this uncertainty and strange feeling. A pain in my chest starts to grow within me, "you're okay," I whisper to myself, to provide some sort of comfort. I can feel the weight of the world fall back upon my shoulders.

Darkness falls , taking away every ounce of light left in the sky. Gathering my board and towel, I had back inside. I glance over at the clock reading 9 pm andsigh, still no one is home. I'm disappointed but not surprised. He'll be home soon I assure myself. Walking up the stairs to my room. i shove my board into my walk in closet. "I'll be better tomorrow" i mutter to myself. Heading to the shower, I create my shower playlist, because what is a shower without some tunes? Music is another outlet. There is nothing better than the feeling of hearing something relate to all the things i feel. It's not just me, I'm not alone. The best thing about music is that there is always some song to describe your exact emotion. When listening to the song, your mind instantly recalls a time where you once heard it first, calling upon every emotion you've felt, from happy ones to sad ones. "Music speaks when words fail," is a common saying, in all aspects it is true. Even when there is no words like in some classical, instrumental pieces, you can hear the sound of cellos and pianos conveying a certain feeling. No one has to speak for you to pick up the certain emotion. I like that about music, when the words are all caught up in my mouth, music pours out it all.

The steaming water hits my back, instantly warming my skin. All of today's hard work and worries flow down to the drain. Taking my Jack Black All-Over Wash, I pour it onto my red loofa. Scrubbing the dirt off my skin, I ponder what life would be like if I was in someone else's shoes. As a kid, growing up I had almost everything. I was the youngest, I had an older brother, Alec, who left the house as soon as he could. Alec was 4 years older. He lives up in New York, it's rare that I ever see him. He was the first to disappear on me. On the Brightside, my parents were wealthy, and I lived near the beach. I got any toy I wanted & I went any place I wanted. One thing I did lack on though, was the physical presence of my parents. Yeah sure I had both parents together and around at the time, but they never truly were around. At age 12, Alec had moved to NY with my uncle Armani, him leaving me at such a young age, weakened me. He was my role model when dad wasn't around. Who would teach me the boy things i should know? It's their fault though. What kind of parents abandon their children to throw themselves into work? Dad said they do it out of love, so that we are able to have everything we need in life. We don't need money. Money means nothing to me. Money could simply not buy happiness, it would only fill the void temporarily. However, there was no use in fighting for lost time, I grew to accept it. I got older and knew what was expected of me. From good grades to being a varsity level athlete, I did everything to make my parents proud of me. That's all I wanted to do in life. Make someone proud of me, however, it's hard to do when they aren't present.

No matter how hard I tried to scrub away all my problems, they would not go away. There will always be this dirt and grime it seems. Everything i've ever said or ever done will forever be there, taunting me. Resting my head on the shower wall, I let the water run down rinsing the soap off. Maybe if I didn't overthink so much, I'd stop stressing so much. Dads right, I'm too young to be stressed. Although he is the main reason I stress. I could never come home without an A or a B at the lowest. He required so much out of me, i was supposed to be the better sibling. There was nothing wrong with Alec but, the fact he left so urgently to go pursue his life in new york. We all knew why he really left, which was to get away from the neglect and in general removing himself from a toxic situation. He let my dad down by not following in his footsteps in working at the family business. My dad expected me to take his roll after he passes. Of course that isn't what i wanted to do, but i'm a people pleaser. I always felt no matter what i did, it could never repay my parents for all they've done. I wanted to be able to repay everything they gave and done for me.

Stepping out the shower I wrap a towel around my waist and walk into my room and to change into shorts and a tank-top. Pulling out my Psychology homework, I set my text book open to a small article and began to read. Minutes later I find myself reading the same sentence over and over. I just cannot focus today, which is strange, I absolutely love psych. The human mind and actions are absolutely intriguing to me. I want to know why is it we do certain things subconsciously and why is it we willingly choose things that can be potentially harmful.I had so many questions on how the human mind works. Why is that we have such strong subconscious and others even have more than one. It all truly peaks my interest. Giving up minutes later, I head for the kitchen in hopes of finding something good to eat. Looking around the pantry and fridge, I decide on a half-eaten sub sandwich from last night. As I sit, my phone vibrates with an unknown number flashing across the screen. I stare at the screen contemplating whether to answer or not. Who would be calling at nearly 10pm? Must be someone trying to sell me something. Taking a bite of my sandwich, I ignore the call and scroll through Facebook. Looking at my feed, memories begin to flood my head. There she is. We looked so good then. Standing in the sand, near the water, at Dario's birthday, junior year. I remember that night clearly, we had just won the soccer tournament and were celebrating his birthday and our victory. The three amigos are what some would say. Then it all changed, we grew apart as life put us through different obstacles only some of us could get through. Soon realizing it was harder to jump through different hoops while hanging onto one another, we parted our ways. I lost contact with her as my life began to shape itself.

Feeling satisfied with a full stomach, I started to head up the stairs when I heard my dad's voice. He's drunk and not alone. I rush to the top of the stairs and peek down as if I were five again. I can hear his voice whispering sweet nothings into the air. Hearing soft giggles approaching the stairs, I bolted towards my room, in fear of being caught spying. By now I could hear voices reach the top of the stairs. I threw myself into bed and immediately threw covers over me, to appear as if I wear sound asleep. Footsteps approached my bedroom as I hear the door creep open. " Emiliano are you up?" he says in a hushed tone. Giving no response, he sighs and adds " I'm sorry about dinner, i swear i will make it up to you." Still no response given, he closes the door gently. I could hear the footsteps slowly fade into the hallway. I huff in annoyance. How could he blown me off to get drunk? Some "work" it must've been. He really brought someone home too. it's literally only been a year, how could he do that to mom? Figuring there was no use in staying up to dwell on it, I lay back and stare at the ceiling. Why is there this feeling in my chest I can't rid of? Why does everything at night feel so heavy? The weight of a simple human emotion really tears me down, like boulders clashing into one another. I can't name the emotion but its growing with every day passing. Why am i even here? What even is my purpose? Is this some sort of phase where days don't even feel like days? Questioning my very own existence, my eyes grow heavy and i fall into a deep slumber. 


This is just the beginning. This book has been inspired by a series of dreams and life events in general, However Ryan Pernofski (@/ Ryanpernofski on IG) , is an amazing photographer, who i have grown to love. Ryan's work has also deeply inspired me in writing this as well.  

Please know this book will not turn out how you think it will. I definitely want to try to make this as realistic as possible. Any comments are always welcomed. Keep in mind all characters are fiction and thoughts an ideas are mine :)


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