The Patchouli Boy

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic romance.... view prompt


Drama Romance

Kit and kaboodle 

Pop goes the poodle

Round and round the booboo bush 

And never let it drop. 

I wish I was up 

I wish I was down 

I wish we could go round and round

Spinning like the colorful wheel

That never ever stops. 

Do you have an issue

What is the deal 

If I have an orange 

Than I’d need to peel

Unless I just bit 

The whole thing through

Cause that seems like something 

I would do. 

She never meant to go to the carnival that night. She would have never left her room, never flicked off Netflix and kicked on her shoes, if she had known he would be there. She would have picked up her phone and called her best friend. They would have gone to the mall and flirted with the kiosk workers and it would have been fine. She would have eaten too many over processed corn dogs and the cashiers would have called security because they would assume she was stealing lipstick even when it was her own from home.

Shed like a snake

But sting like a bee

Don’t break glass

And don’t touch me

But actually do 

Is there a way

To get through to you?

We could drive to Memphis 

But let’s just stay at home 

Why should we leave the city

When this is our Rome?

The thing about Rome is it fell 


So maybe it’s falling apart.

I think I know where some glue is

But I wonder if that works for hearts. 

I’ll have to order that 

Weave in weave out 

And sneak in

At the middle of the night.

She walked in through the fairground gates and her best friend ran up to her, laughing and throwing her arms around her shoulders. 

“This is going to be so much fun.” 

And she believed her. She had no reason not to. She had absolutely no plausible reason for thinking the night could end badly until they rounded the merry go round corner and saw him and his friends and the other girl; the girl that he loved out loud and for real. She was so pretty, with very long red hair that touched the tips of her manicured nails as she swished by, leaving everyone dizzy in the wake of her perfume. Our girl, the thought-this-was-a-good-idea girl named Ece Benli, was wearing Marvin the Martian socks and her hair smelled like tuna, leaving everyone dizzy for different reasons, especially if they were allergic to seafood. 

Ah don’t break the window

You lavender rose garlic boy 

You may smell like patchouli 

But love is not a toy 

So don’t be plastic

Don’t be fake 

Be the party 

Not just the cake.

Burnt down the kitchen 

So let’s run away 

I’ll ride a cow 

And you lead the way

Cause it’s already dark

And I can’t really see

But if you hold my hands

I know that I’m me 

And since we are here 

Let’s walk down 

Let’s chat by the pier.

You grab my shoes 

I’ll hold your shirt 

Throw up some hay 

And the earth is all dirt

Rich and dark 

Like the night air 

Fold your hands

Rest in my hair. 

Ece had met him, the patchouli boy, in a Trader Joe's market last fall. She was looking for tiny organic pumpkins and found him instead, hiding being a stack of almond ice cream. She liked his shirt; she had always had a soft spot for boys who were brave enough to proclaim their musical interests like it was no big deal. “I like that band too,” she said, reaching over his crouched form to get to the ice cream behind him. He smiled, grinning into his palms, and stood up, still leaning against the fridges. They talked until her mom called her from the parking lot and she left then, but not without his phone number. The talking moved from bands to favorite colors to deathly fears to hopes to dreams and soon they were closer than one would have imagined a pumpkin girl and an ice cream aisle boy to be. The only problem was that the ice cream aisle boy was buying ice cream for his girlfriend that day, not for a sister or mother or young nephew named Philly Cheesteak Ramon. Yeah, girlfriends didn’t bode well for the future, but they still talked every night. They still went to the pier after the sun came down and the stars started shining, not too much but just enough light. 

Collarbones collarbones

Hands along the keys

Sweaters and blankets

And everything free.

Kiss me miss me 

But always late to play 

You do in the nighttime 

What we should do in the day

Creeping about 

Like a worm 

I love you always

But you never learn.

Why are we hiding 

I like your clothes

Let’s go to the movies 

You can pick the shows. 

Your hands are warm

And mine are cold 

You say we are young 

But I want to grow old

With you by my side

With your hand in mine

Till we walk with walkers

And with dentures we dine. 

I feel like it’s falling apart 

And does glue work for a heart? 

I wish we had known from the start

That not all pretty things end in art 

Some end up in boxes and carts. 

Like photos in an attic

Songs on a playlist 

Tears grow so heavy 

Now as I say this 

Because you are my favorite person

And I know you could love me back 

But things aren’t working out 

All our systems have been hacked. 

Her friends had warned her about boys like this, but she didn’t want to admit it to herself. She was bored and sick of being alone and left out of her friends late afternoon spill the tea parties. She wanted someone to talk to and about and with and for. If he provided that, she was going to run with it. Only, after a while, she could feel the relationship shift from convenience and fun to actual… something. Something she couldn’t stand the thought of ruining by saying hello in public, least of all with the real girlfriend wrapped around his shoulders like the Marquis De Sade’s fluffy, expensive boa. Ece veered left, ignoring Theo and Adiah, and almost ran straight into a cotton candy stand. 

But for now I won’t say that 

For now we’ll say nothing at all

You be at 

My beck and call

I’ll say jump and you’ll fly 

I’ll ask for water and you’ll cry 

And together we’ll drink the moon. 

Stay with me 

In this little Rome

It can be our castle 

But it can’t be a home. 

Before you go 

Let me tell you this 

Ink fills a page 

But not a wrist. 

Glue can fix cardboard 

Glue can fix paper 

But what we have is broken

So nothing can taper

The damage is done

You like me when the stars are shining 

But when the sun rolls around

Your attention spans declicing. 

Maybe that’s why 

You never say my name 

When I stop by. 

Kit and Kaboodle

So what’s new

You like me

And I love you. 

As the fall turned into the winter, the days got short and the nights got warm. The girlfriend, well, at least the daytime girlfriend, Adiah, went away for a few weeks for a skiing trip and Ece and Theo stole more time than they should. They found each other talking about the future like they would have one together and that scared them so then they talk much at all. Even in the silence, though, they found each other watching reruns of their shared favorite Disney shows, eating cereals on the basement sofa at three am, holding hands across the truck seats as they drove out to watch the rain flood into the river, and those actions spoke louder than words. They read poems in the graveyard, pages backlit by moonlight and hair streaked through by the tinny yellow stars. Adiah came home and found her boyfriend happier, Ece bought a new flashlight and stuffed it under her mattress to give to Theo when he visited next. She couldn’t have him falling out of the window frame and breaking his neck. She couldn’t have him breaking anything other than her heart. 

Your sweater tumbles in my washing machine

We danced in the rain till sunrise 

I wish you’d take off your mask 

So I could see more than your eyes.

They’re gray but blue 

And also green 

They’re yellow, pink 


Like nothing I’ve ever seen 

You remind me of Easter 

I think of the bunny 

Who used to bring me candy 

But nothing seemed funny 

About the way you talk 

When you’re too tired to think better 

Of anything that comes out of your mouth. 

Like that song we used to play in the car 

I’m wondering 

Are you nice because you’re nice 

Or are you nice because you need something 

And why would you need me 

If all I do is sing you songs

Make you food

Drive your car 

Write you poems  

And dedicate my novels to you. 

Ece braced herself, now, against the cotton candy stand. Her mind spun with visions of the chaos that would engulf her and the rest of the town if she dared even wave at Theo. There would be the taking off of earrings and the ripping out of hair. She could feel the nails against her skin, tearing bitterly at hands that had touched the art that did not belong to her own museum. “Maybe we should just go.” She swallowed the tears rising in her throat like unchecked baggage in the back of an illegal jet plane and grabbed her best friend by the wrist. “We really should just go.” Her friend nodded, understanding in the moment that Ece’s wellbeing was more important than fun at the carnival. They both ducked towards the exit, but as they did, Adiah decided she wanted to compliment Ece’s best friend, June, on her academic achievement of valedictorian. Ece made eye contact with a puddle of something gray and slimy smelling on the ground. Theo dropped Adiah’s hand and brushed some spare crumbs off his hoodie. If anyone had been paying attention, they would have known something had shifted in the cosmos, but luckily everyone was too caught up in the carnival passion to notice. Ece looked up, making the second mistake that night. Theo bit his lower lip, front teeth still stuccoed with bits of the turkey leg he’d shared with Adiah. 


Forget about what I said 

Now and sit on my floor 

The carpet is warm 

But not at the core. 

Keep my place 

While I get us a snack

Don’t forget me 

I’m coming right back.

Eat these crackers

Drink this please 

Turn up the music 

And I’ll bring you some tea.

I know I complain

But it’s a poet’s curse

I know you’ll leave as soon as

The moon leaves in her hearse 

But hey, the stars are out 

And we’re staying in 

As soon as the sun stays behind the mountains 

The story’s yet to begin. 

Ece shook it off, smiled at Theo and Adiah. “Yeah, June’s amazing, isn’t she? It’s so nice to see you, Adiah, we missed you while you were gone last winter.” No one had missed Adiah that much, least of all Ece, who had felt like pouring sugar in her gas tank every time she saw her and Theo stride by together in the school hallways. Not that she had any right to feel that way. Adiah wasn’t the one kissing someone else’s real boyfriend. Ece was. Adiah grinned back and Ece felt her heart wrench. She wanted to tell Theo to stop reading poetry in the graveyards with her when he had such a sweet cinnamon roll like Adiah to attend to. She didn’t, though. She just waved again and pulled June out of the fairgrounds. When they reached the car, Theo had already texted her four times. 

I’ll get distracted 

You’ll bring me back 

You know how it goes

We’ve got in the knack 

Of leaving and loving 

Living and learning

While everyone else 

Just dreams of what we are.  

The moon is fading 

The walls are peeling 

Surely you could feel

How I am feeling

But I know we’re playing 

So let’s keep pretending 

Why not keep going 

See where this is ending. 

She set the car moving and they charged out of the fairgrounds. Ece ignored her phone even though it was slowly blowing up. “Ecie, do you want me to read you the messages?” 

“No, that’s fine.” She kept driving onward, on the verge of speeding but not quite there. She was slowed by anger that wasn’t hers to be felt and guilt that she 1000% deserved. 

Your girlfriend 

You love her 


Put no one above her 

And I’m the second choice

Which usually I wouldn’t mind

But there’s breaking 

In my voice. 

There’s a catch in my chest 

A trip in my feet 

I realize 

We have no pictures to delete

So if we ended this 

Whatever it may be 

There would be no evidence

For the court to see 

That we ever knew each other

That we danced the rain 

That we shared cereal 

Sweet thoughts and loud pain. 

Ece pulled into the nearest gas station. 

She grabbed her phone.

She read the apologetic messages from Theo and thought of what they had pulled each other into; a bad mad swirling of secrets and lies and everything Ece herself always said she would stand up against, never fall for. She scrolled down the screen and began to select messages to delete them as she thought of Adiya’s kind, sweet doe eyes blinking at her innocently. She didn’t have a clue. Ece wondered if Adiyah loved Theo too and if Theo actually loved Adiyah back, if he tried his best with her and cherished her and cared about her even when the shield of nighttime faded away. Ece vowed to talk to Theo, really look at his dumb face and tell him what for even as her heart fluttered like paper weightless manuscripts and her stomach flipped like omlet eggs. She wouldn’t keep doing this to herself or Theo or Adiyah. It wasn’t worth it. She handed June her phone and turned the car back onto the highway; directed towards the fairgrounds. This was going to be settled one way or another, as civilly as Ece could manage. It would be a beginning and an end no matter how the story went, but Ece had to snap out of the cycle. Jaw set, she drove. The radio, barely heard over the thrum of her thoughts, sang it’s the end of the world as we know it and in her head, Ece knew she would feel just fine. 

September 23, 2020 04:07

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Jubilee Forbess
04:11 Sep 23, 2020

Just an explanation for why I thought this fit the prompt: So apocalypse doesn't have to mean the end of the world. It also has connotations of "to be revealed" or "uncovered" so I thought that in this story there would be some kind of drama revolving around a romance that was a secret, but not the good kind and at the end I wanted it to end. Then when I started writing, I found myself torn between what I would do if I was in the same situation as Ece and Theo and Adiyah, bless her heart. It got complicated. I kept writing. I hope the re...


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Fplldg Wakdwwdg
08:09 Sep 23, 2020

Nice style !, Liked the poetry. Can you also read my stories? Thanks for your time.


Jubilee Forbess
13:12 Sep 23, 2020

:) I read one of them and liked the rest. Will try to comment later, thanks!


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23:11 Sep 24, 2020

Such an interesting story. Wonderful job. AND THAT NOTE IN YOUR BIO— AHHHHHH LOVE IT—


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Amaya .
23:01 Sep 24, 2020

I just dropped in here to say: Your bio? That downvoter note at the end? Best thing I've ever read Better than Harry Potter Better than Keeper of the Lost Cities Better than The Hate U Give (and that's saying something) Better than the Princess Diaries series (the one by Meg Cabot) I would like to shower you with the gift of my endless gratitude for gracing the world with those beautiful words. haha I'm just kidding. But seriously. lol. :)


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Scout Tahoe
04:49 Sep 23, 2020

I love the mix of poetry and stories. I think it matches the prompt, Rhonda. No need to worry. Forgot to mention that your profile pic is amazing. ;)


Jubilee Forbess
13:10 Sep 23, 2020

Ah yes, it's a joke because in my bio I mention being *swamped* with business. :)


Scout Tahoe
13:17 Sep 23, 2020



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19:09 Oct 10, 2020

Rhondalise, this was AMAZING! Great work!


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Cal Carson
16:06 Oct 01, 2020

Wow, fantastic read! I loved the mix of poetry and prose! It was a really unique twist on the prompt that I wasn't expecting at all. Normally I would read a story in a few minutes, but I sure took my time on this one to absorb all of the wonder and such you included. "We have no pictures to delete So if we ended this Whatever it may be There would be no evidence For the court to see" This was my favorite line, I think it flowed really well. I found myself kind of chanting your poetry in my head as I read it, and I could still...


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Raquel Rodriguez
15:20 Oct 01, 2020

Lol, the beginning is giving me 'Alice in Wonderland' vibes. Great story, I love how you wrote differently than usual. :) Could you please read my new submission, 'Only Alien'?


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A.Dot Ram
20:12 Sep 30, 2020

I like how you've blended the poetry and prose. It's like looking into Ece's journal. This is all vivid and easy to follow. Given how their relationship started around music (the band shirt), it's appropriate that there's a sound track for its apocalypse. And it's a great song 😁.


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Emma Sunshine
00:20 Sep 26, 2020

good story


Jubilee Forbess
00:44 Sep 26, 2020

Mmm, thanks, Emma! You said in your bio you might have some harsh feedback; didn't see that here but thank you anyway and if you have helpful critiques I'd be glad to hear them.


Emma Sunshine
19:08 Oct 10, 2020

hmm, i didn't really have any... most of the time it's harsh accusations tho


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Meggy House
19:19 Sep 25, 2020

Hi Rhondalise! This is a beautiful story and a wonderfully creative take on the prompt! I love your lyrical, poetic style. You are a truly brilliant writer and I am excited to read more of your works! Also, your bio is amazing. I know not who the elusive downvoter is but they've got a big storm coming. Would you mind reading something of mine? I would really appreciate feedback from such an eloquent writer :)


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Sia S
16:38 Oct 16, 2020

Wow!!! I feel like if you made this poem/song into a legit one with music and stuff, it would go VIRAL!!!! And yeah the story was GREAT!!!


Jubilee Forbess
16:41 Oct 16, 2020

Yeah, the poem was a personal info dump and so I wrote a story around it. :D Too bad I can't write music. :(


Sia S
16:44 Oct 16, 2020

Lol, you just did!! Just add some drums or beats and youd good to go!! I would LOVE to see this on YouTube! And I wouldn't even be annoyed if this got stuck in my head! lol


Jubilee Forbess
16:45 Oct 16, 2020

who would sing though? Not me! I promise I'll let you guys know if it's online. :)


Sia S
17:12 Oct 16, 2020

Hmmm.... any of your friends ? Yes sure! I would love to know!


Jubilee Forbess
17:16 Oct 16, 2020

Actually I do have some friends who could, I just don't know if I could pay them enough haha.


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12:44 Oct 16, 2020

Beautiful story. I really liked this one--probably the best I've read from you, and almost certainly one of the best stories I've read on Reedsy to date. Even compared to contest winners, this was a doozy. The prompt is so beautifully rendered. You really made me care for the characters, which, in my book, is the ultimate measure of a story. And I agree--an apocalypse is a catastrophe of some kind. In Ece's mind, the romance takes place after the catastrophe of Theo and Adiyah meeting. Some, more OCD critic could probably berate you...


Jubilee Forbess
12:59 Oct 16, 2020

Thank you so much! let me know how the free verse stuff goes and also if you find my poetry; I sent a list on another comment thread around here.


13:00 Oct 16, 2020

Found the list. ;)


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14:45 Oct 16, 2020

Took me a few hours, but I got a first draft of free verse poem out there. :) It's my first time writing a romance, so I'd love if you could give me some feedback.


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Amany Sayed
14:31 Sep 23, 2020

Oh Rhonnyyyy This was so goooooooooood! I love the poetry and the emotion and the jfakldfjl just the everything I don't really know what to say.


Jubilee Forbess
14:41 Sep 23, 2020

:) anything you'd change though?


Amany Sayed
14:46 Sep 23, 2020

Hm in the start I was confused about putting names to characters maybe make it a bit more clear? By the end I had it though.


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