Thursday, April 26, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

I am currently very stoned. Luckily, very stoned is a look I can pull off well. I have had lots of experience. It's probably one of my more impressive talents. I've talked to cops on acid...

But I digress. Because I was going to tell you about this one time when I was at a party. It was a typical high school cliché bullshit kegger. Literally, like it was being directed by some moron in a Ramones t-shirt and $300 shoes. 

So, most of us, we're not that happy about being at this party. Except for my friend Toby, who is a secret frat boy (at the time, he's a legit frat boy now) who just wants to get laid. Or try and fail. My friend Max on the other hand, unbeneknownst to us, is stealing expensive liquor and probably other shit from the house. 

We finally convince Toby to leave so we can go get fucked up properly, amongst our own kind. 

Then, this guy steps in front of me. 

"One of your friends tagged my car. Give me your backpack."

I swear to God, this guy is out of central casting. Blonde. Handsome. Probably the star quarterback. I want to say he was wearing a fucking letterman jacket. Me? I hate confrontation with people, but I hate someone talking shit to me more. 

"Fuck you. None of my friends did shit, and you can go fuck yourself."

Guy's pussy, yet dangerous, football friends step up behind him. Which I think meant that I was being backed by Max, Toby, Pat, Katie, and probably a few other girls. Of those people, I can count on Max possibly backing me up. 

"Give me your backpack."

"Dude, there's nothing in my backpack but a jacket and shit."

Guy comes menacingly closer and it becomes evident that fisticuffs are imminent. Me, having a history of getting hit and NOT enjoying it, decide 'fuck the moral high-ground' - here.

So, I throw the backpack at him and tell him to look inside - there's nothing in there but a jacket and some shit. I tell him off again and tell him that no one would tag his stupid car and we're leaving blah blah blah. 

Then, we get into whoever's car we got into and there is this cackle from the back.

Young Max, drunk as shit, on stolen liquor.

"Dude, I totally tagged that guy's car."

I am gobsmacked. And then, we proceed to the park where Max drinks a bottle of purloined and expensive Russian vodka. TO THE DOME.

And refuses to share one sip. 

While the rest of us drink warm malt liquor and wait for him to puke.

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

77 comments:

  1. I was right there with Max... and I know the headache coming in the morning. This felt real!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those parties are like some eternal spirit that just keeps coming after the teenagers. I knew that Max, mine just had a different name. Good read, thanks!

      Delete
    2. Ha. I think I knew those guys, too.

      Delete
    3. I absolutely did not know ANY of these guys (except maybe Max) and after reading this I kinda want to.

      Delete
    4. Acutually, I WAS the guy who talked to cops on acid...

      Delete
    5. Damn , I never learned the trick of appearing not high or stoned. I love all of this, but especially two details: the Ramones shirt and the expensive shoes, and the last line.

      Delete
  2. There are lessons only old dogs can teach us. They include persistence, joy, and grace. They offer us reminders to lie in the sun, allowing the warmth to soak into tired aching bones; to enjoy a good meal; and to steal the occasional kiss.

    He shows me that pain is not an excuse to shun one's duty of barking at unknown things, of marking one's territory, of sighing and turning around three times before falling asleep.

    Grace, I said. More than one lesson there. After a baker's dozen years of being on his own or leading, Angelo shares leadership freely with Maggie now. In fact, it is more common for her to take the lead than either he or I. She grows in her responsibility, and I try not to let him see my eyes wet, knowing that it is hard enough for him.
    I see it in his eyes, too; weighing the job she is doing against the job he could do. "Good enough," I hear him in my mind.

    And that is a lesson for me, too. I am not the best at what I do, when compared to others. It is good enough to do the best I can.

    He has more dreams now. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, especially when the moon is full, and I see his legs moving. Running dreams. Chasing rabbits. In the past, or in heaven, I cannot say and truly do not want to know.

    In that moonlight, I watch his chest rise and fall, and I see the stubborn young dog who showed up at my door all those years ago. I remember how long it took for us to learn to trust each other. Six months before he would allow my hand anywhere near his face. Another three before he would allow me near his supper bowl if there was even one piece of kibble in it.

    Now, when we walk, I stop to rest, and I see gratitude in his eyes, looking up as he leans into me.

    The clock is ticking. I know this. Time seems to flow faster now, but all we have ever really had is today, a string of todays.

    He still has lessons to teach, and I am a slow learner.

    No, I do not let him see me cry, when I foolishly allow myself to look too far into the future. But Maggie knows, and she licks away the tears, as once he did, even before he trusted me.

    One day at a time. This day. This moment. Now. And then I rub the place that Border Collies keep secret from all but those whom they love. And we walk on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there are the tears. I have my own dog, growing older, and this piece speaks so clearly. "He shows me that pain is not an excuse to shun one's duty" You share your gift so well, Leland.

      Delete
    2. Man, this is beautiful. And resonates so much with me. I remember so many moments like this when cat was getting older and frailer. This line really grabbed me: "The clock is ticking. I know this. Time seems to flow faster now, but all we have ever really had is today, a string of todays."

      Really well played, Leland.

      Delete
    3. Oh, this is so beautiful. I love the line that Mr. Mader highlighted, but this one, too: "No, I do not let him see me cry, when I foolishly allow myself to look too far into the future. But Maggie knows, and she licks away the tears, as once he did, even before he trusted me."

      Delete
    4. You leave me wordless but ditto, "beautiful" is apt. And sad in a way that one never wants to think about. Thanks for sharing this.

      Delete
    5. Oh God, I'm crying and I'm not even a dog person...How lovely!

      Delete
    6. Thanks, y'all! And Angelo sends wags!

      Delete
    7. This is beautiful, Leland. The idea that animas don't feel love and all those other emotions is ludicrous. Strangely. give Dan's story and now this, I was reading about an elderly blue heeler named Max (honesty!) who despite being partially blind and mostly deaf, saved a three-year-old girl who'd wandered from her grandparents' place in the Australian outback by staying with her all night and then leading the distraught grandparents to her the next day. That's love and duty.

      Delete
    8. We could learn a lot from them. I’m gonna go look for the Max story! Thanks!

      Delete
    9. I saw you found it. Amazing, huh?

      Delete
  3. It's a near-perfect spring day where I'm at. That's no reason that the poetry can't say ugly things.

    Malice

    I have grown to relish cruelty,
    to savage your exposed feelings.
    To tear the meat out of your chest,
    chew it in front of you.
    Spit it out on the ground,
    while I revile you for the bitter taste.

    Your throat will clamp shut, your lips flex,
    like the trout I caught last fall.
    I discarded it on the shore,
    too small to bother with.
    You stagger back to me, pleading.
    I set the hook back through your tongue.

    I will realize, years from now,
    I punished you as a proxy.
    Your crimes were committed
    by the one before you.
    You harvest my injected malice,
    flaying your new lover for my sins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The use of a fish as a metaphor is really powerful...but "injected malice" is my favorite phrase in this...

      Delete
    2. Yep. I'm with Leland. And this rings of anger and judgement - of the world and the self. Super powerful.

      Delete
    3. This depiction of the cycle of abuse, how we can pass on our wounds to the undeserving, is powerful.

      Delete
  4. Once upon a time, the tabletop had been coated with some kind of protectant. Varnish? Is that would it would be? She doesn’t know much about furniture. But she does know that protective layer wore off ages ago. The blond wood is still blond, mostly, but it’s covered in a million nicks and scratches. There’s a blue-black stain where Sharpie bled through paper. A red one, probably from Kool-Aid. But it’s sturdy. It was built when furniture was made to last more than a year or two. This table, it’s lasted a couple of decades. It’s been around since she was a teenager, and she’s sure it’ll be around after she’s gone—and she doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

    The old table has seen a lot. Drama, of the teenaged variety. A hundred petty arguments, and a few major ones. Dozens of meals where the whole family gathered, and hundreds where the household family broke bread together. Thousands upon thousands of games of all sorts—42, Canasta, Rummy, and Yahtzee right on through to Go Fish Yourself and Cards Against Humanity. It’s served as work table, dining table, game table, and a dance floor for countless infants and toddlers. Part of her first novel was written sitting at that table. It’s stood there in the kitchen through all the ups and downs, been silent witness to all the heartaches and victories.

    Most of all, the table’s seen love. She swears she can feel it in the marred wood. Can feel the ghosts of Christmases past, the echo of teasing and laughter and comfort, the long-ago but not-forgotten moments shared by five generations of family, and innumerable friends.

    Someone else might look at that table and see the dust accumulated in the grooves on the feet, the catch on the leaf that doesn’t work just right, the dents and scratches and stains, and see a battered _thing_ that is past its prime. But that’s not what she sees. That’s not what she sees at all.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the details of those little accumulated defects that build up over time, each with a story of their own, the Sharpie, the kool-aid

      Delete
    2. I love pieces like this. The history in inanimate objects. And I have a desk I've had since I bought it at Salvation Army when I was 18. It's stained and beaten. There are notes written all over it in sharpie. Phone numbers. Wine stains. Burn marks from cigarettes. It took me a while to explain to Karen why we couldn't throw it away.

      Delete
    3. This is actually about the table in what is now my brother's house. Erin and I made him promise to not get rid of it unless he lets us have it. <3

      Delete
    4. Aw, man. I love all the details, can picture all the stories. He better not give it to anyone else!

      Delete
    5. I love this one so hard! I happen to have more "project" furniture than I will ever finish and yet I never get rid of it. Because of those stories...

      Delete
    6. Ah, I love this. I often think of the spirits inhabiting our furniture... my own dining table belonged to my grandmother, and I remember dancing around it when I couldn't even see the top... thanks for a well-written reminder of the stories loved inanimate objects can hold!

      Delete
    7. Everyone else said it, which leaves me to simply say I loved this piece.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The sky claims the upper third of the view in the blue that bears its name. The bottom of the scene, the blue-gray roadway, stretches out ahead like the world’s longest pair of jeans, top-stitched in a Pass/No Pass yellow thread. It's singing the sonorous song of tar strips against this Yankee’s tires. The middle ground belongs to the pines that curtain off everything to the right and left as if the hills had something to hide. This is the Carolina I observe that lies between a family stretched 700 miles apart. The road offers somnolent monotony and even comfort to a brain that whispers and wonders about what it thinks might lie ahead and what lies might’ve been left behind. The Honda reels in another semi and peels around it to clear the screen of clutter beyond the bugs who lost their own race from here to there. And just as you think closing your eyes wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all, a deer wanders from its place behind the curtain, stage right. It’s gray-beige coat gleams like a the head of a haloed saint in the golden hour now chiming on the gong of sun preparing to make its exit on a day you only remember only in stops for coffee, gas, tolls and men’s rooms dressed in tiles foreign as Delaware is to Virginia. But then that eagle, big as a retriever, swoops across its Carolina blue highway and settles upon some scurrying critter who will scurry no more, and you realize there is more life going on around you than in all the lives you’ve lived and loved and lied and lusted and outlasted in your head since you began your sojourn. That’s when you realize here’s your exit and your journey is only beginning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow.Ever since I was a kid we were traveling back and forth from Wisconsin to Texas to see my dad's folks (Behind the Pine Curtain) and what you did right there? Just about every road trip I ever took...You brought 'em all back in a paragraph.

      Delete
    2. Yeah. Agreed. Epic. And also the rhythm and assonance work super well. This is a cool unfolding of universal experience.

      Delete
    3. This is so iconic... the road calls to all of us, doesn't it? And it calls best when it's in the words of a skilled writer. The vision of the highway as denim with stitching is one that will stick with me... I'll try to remember it's yours and not steal it! The only thing that tripped me up, and it was a minor stumble, was gray-beige... I don't have a better word for it, but that lacked the grace that the rest of the story holds. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. Bless you, Friends. It's been a difficult time.

      Delete
    6. First off, I'm sorry you're having a difficult time. Joe. Second, this is absolutely gorgeous, somehow both melancholy and inspiring. Beautiful use of language and imagery.

      Delete
  7. Love the imagery of the road as a pair of jeans top-stitched by the yellow lines!

    ReplyDelete
  8. “Why do you have to go?” Her question registers as the first raindrops begin to fall. You stop in the middle of the sidewalk, tip your face to the sky and let the damp, metallic smell trigger the pleasant memories. Springtime. Green leaves. Hikes along a springy bed of pine needles in the forest.

    She turns. The scent of hairspray fights the perfume radiating from her skin. The smell of anger. You add that to your mental catalog of unpleasant memories. “Are you even listening to me?”

    “Uh. Sure. Of course.”

    “No.” She starts walking again. You follow. Umbrellas pop open all around you. Hers with a tooth-grinding snap. She doesn’t offer to share. “You’re not listening. You’re lost in that damn Mars mission again. Maybe you should go. Maybe you should go now.”

    “This ‘damn Mars mission’ could save humanity! Not to be hyperbolic about it, but when the oceans rise and the air is unfit to breathe, when crazy world leaders launch the missiles...what if there was a habitable place we could go? With far more potential than the Moon?”

    Silence. You should have weighed your words more carefully. Conversations like this were why she took pills every night to sleep. You try again, softer. “They’ll only need me for a few months.”

    “That’s what you said last time.” She spins toward you, flinging a spray of rain from her umbrella across your shirt. “It was more like a year!”

    “Then move to Houston with me.”

    “Houston. As if.”

    The smell of spite. You try to think of happier aromas. Bread baking. A wet dog and a small boy jumping into a pond on a summer afternoon. You smile to yourself. This could really work. In previous extended space missions, humans have suffered from sensory deprivation. It’s made them hallucinate. It’s been detrimental to their health, their productivity.

    The team loves your idea—a virtual reality system that can impart not just visuals and sound, but can activate memories tied to certain smells. Now you’re getting the chance to create it. First, catalog the appropriate sensory input, then build the system and test it. You know it can work. You know it will help. You’d feel better if your wife believed in you, believed in your ideas. Believed you weren’t taking these assignments to get away from her.

    But you can’t change that.

    You spend the trip home in silence. You imagine the smells awaiting you. The stale coffee in the kitchen. The damp wool aroma of the couch where you’ll be sleeping.

    You pull into the driveway, snap off the keys. Let out a long breath. She reaches for her door handle, hesitates. “I’ll go with you.” Her voice is so quiet it blends with the rain. Then, a little louder, and with a grain of humor you haven’t heard in some time, she adds, “After all, if you’re going to be so absorbed in this project, someone better make sure you eat once in a while.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perfect scene. Just perfect. Especially those scents.Writers don't use scents enough, do they?

      Delete
    2. I agree. And that's something I tell my students all the fucking time. We have multiple senses. Smell is so evocative, but so many writers ignore it. Well played, Boris.

      Delete
    3. Well-played indeed. I love the notion of using scents on space ships... it's one of our oldest senses in an evolutionary sense, and tied to everything. Also I love how you built these characters with so few words, and so much motivation and reason to empathize! Well done!

      Delete
    4. It's funny this came up as I'm editing a dark fantasy right now, and one of the characters is a wolf-man hybrid, and he identifies people by their scent, which are always imaginatively described: "Her scent of cinnamon and citrus filled the room," "The warrior's reek of iron and sweat," etc. Anyway, yes, this is great, Laurie. A great idea and perfectly executed.

      Delete
    5. Really enjoyed this piece. I'm torn between feeling the ending was rushed, and realizing that sometimes, that is how quickly the tide can turn if one of the people is willing to reach out. I am also in the group of 'I need to use scents and descriptions around it more often. Now if only I can remember to push that a bit... Well done!

      Delete
  9. With age, Ezra Meeks was held together by his rituals. He rose promptly at 4:30, rain or shine or season. He aired the dogs and loaded the coffee maker and drove to two point 5 miles to the gym while his wife Susie, always stirred in her sleep long enough to hear him and reassure herself he was still alive, then drifted back to her dreams, thankful for something, at least. Including the hour of silence that followed his going off, improving something invisible about himself; including that hour of half asleep speculation, her astute and profound gratitude for the next ten, or eight, or no more imaginary years. He was a man who subscribed to self-improvement; she was a woman who suspected that a heart held only so many beats and a nap added more to your life than any regime.
    When he panicked about money, she saved and conserved. When he spent too much, she curbed the urge.
    She planted flowers, he weeded and dug. He worked and she played; he resented the bills. She was glad she could pay them and there were no ills more serious than those in front of their faces. Comared to some, they were doing great
    She felt that control was a joke with god; he felt he could somehow beat the odds. And together they travel hand in hand, held together by a tension neither can explain.
    Marriage is a strange love story, where no one ever says they’re sorry. Where respect goes unspoken, and years of loving hold them together. An offering to those above, a wish, a phantom, some kind of token.
    Whatever the changes to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like this piece a lot - as an examination of relationship, but I also find routines fascinating. Like the scent comment above - I wonder that more writers don't explore routines because they are SO revealing character-wise

      Delete
    2. The rhythm and motion of a relationship is a beautiful -- or sometimes, an ugly -- thing to watch. This was a well-written study of that... I've never heard the expression "aired the dogs" but I love it! I'm also in love with the character's name. Well done!

      Delete
    3. I love how all those yins and yangs, when one picks up after the other and vice versa, are what holds it all together, like surface tension on water.

      Delete
    4. Definitely agree with JD on the routines that can tell so much. I also enjoyed the contrast between the two characters.

      Delete
  10. Sometimes at night I think my true self comes out. It's hard to describe what my true self is, or how it is different from the way I present myself normally, but I know it is not my usual self. I don't know that part of myself fully, but I know what it is and I know how I feel. Sometimes it feels like I'm being torn open, not like a body of flesh because it does not hurt as such, but more like a peach. And not even being torn open, but rather being so ripe it splits open of it's own accord. And inside the peach there's a stone. Maybe what I think of as my true self would be who I actually am, if I weren't plagued by such shyness and aversion. But all the same, that is not a side of myself anyone would see, not even my closest friends and family. What frightens me though, is when people want to know that side, they want to peer into my body and see what I cannot see. Knowledge gained from a descent into the pit. In their hand they want to hold my beating, female heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like this one a lot. The peach analogy works perfectly. And this is an interesting concept we human type creatures have to deal with. What really lies at the core? This is a strong and interesting piece of writing.

      Delete
    2. I like this a lot, too. And I would never have thought of the comparison to the peach... it's exactly right for this. There's a beautiful sense of vulnerability in this piece, and I hope that in the fullness of time, when the character "splits of its own accord" that the stone does not hide the beauty that has been growing inside all along.

      Delete
    3. Everyone is so contemplative this week! And yes, what those guys said. This is a perfectly meditative piece, with true insight.

      Delete
    4. I feel a balance here between her looking inside, and the resentment at what others wish to see. A violation and control of what isn't theirs. I think of the deep wrinkles and hidden crevices of a peach pit, and it makes it a much better choice than any other fruit seed/pit that I can think of. Excellent choice!

      Delete
  11. “It’s just a rough cut.”

    At least that’s what Kip would’ve said. So, I parrot it. But he’s only a little boy playing with an old video camera his father gave him to quiet his natural urges, when he speaks like that. Still he sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about, even at such a young age. He might, too. He’s filmed us all, his brothers and sister, his father, me – all of us.

    We’re on the beach today so our defenses are down. You can see the real us. The people behind the mask. We’re more liberated than usual because the air and the sun cradle each of us in a diaphanous cloud of pleasure. There is nothing I want or need on this beach that is not already here at my fingertips. Nothing that I can’t already imagine or revel in. And I have no doubt that my family feels the same way.

    I know that somewhere in the subterranean depths of my mind my melancholy rests like a dead weight. Waiting. A genetically attached ticking bomb that I have so little control over I’m more than willing to be wrapped in a stone dress and throw myself into the sea to get away from it.

    But, not really.

    Of course, not.

    I’m only being histrionic. That’s the cost of my sandy freedoms. An exaggerated sense of my own demise.

    It’s also fitting for me to be so drama filled. My mother was an actress. She named me Yara, after the goddess of water or the water lady, as they call her in my home country. So, I know a little about the para-mythology of theater.

    When I pick up Kip’s camera and start filming I have nothing in mind. No protagonist, no plot, no setting except this beach, that we seem to have commandeered uncontested for our family unit.

    My boys, so beautiful, play by throwing a ball back and forth to infinity while my daughter cheerfully plays alone, with the sand. A smart, grounded girl, she’s perfectly happy keeping herself apart from her brother’s efforts to be men.

    I move the camera lens to the water, which of course is never quite the same as the moment before and I feel an affinity with it. I also feel my husband’s eyes checking me out from behind. He could sex me with his eyes and he knows it. One look from him and I’m shackled to this earth faster than I can say my own name. Because of that and more, I am grateful to him. That sense of gravity has brought me numerous gifts.

    When his large and muscled arms wrap around me from behind and pull me closer, I do not fight it. I want to stay. So, when he asks…

    “What are you filming?”

    I give him Kip’s words, instead of my own and I rest here a little longer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is dope and seems like a really complete piece. It's compelling and beautifully told. I love this line especially: "A smart, grounded girl, she’s perfectly happy keeping herself apart from her brother’s efforts to be men.

      Delete
    2. There's a wonderful symmetry in the opening and close... and like a magician, you use those parts to distract us from the story you're really telling... Deftly told, and I can almost smell the sea.

      Delete
    3. Right. It's like a loop of time or of video, holding something precious you can always return to. Again, like so many others this week, so meditative.

      Delete
    4. The line: 'I’m more than willing to be wrapped in a stone dress and throw myself into the sea to get away from it.' The rest of the piece is really good, but that line is the one that hooks me.

      Delete
  12. Maxim withdrew, got up from my bed and left the room.

    I called him Maxim, even though we were told not to give them names. XF23 seemed too inhuman for me. We were supposed to redefining our humanity and my having intercourse with a machine was more than enough for me. The men were all gone now but that meant the duty of being humane was solely our responsibility. We mustn’t lose that – everything we’d done so far would have been for nothing if we let that happen.

    Maxim was a vestigial remainder, a hangover from a time when we’d all been so proud of who we were. Especially those who should really have been ashamed of themselves. The fact that we’d needed help to put that time behind us had been nothing to be guilty of, we’d made our decision and kept to it, even though there'd been many who'd contested it, both in other countries and at home, where the resistance would be felt more. The Arbiter had presented the case but there’d been little choice if we wanted to survive as a species.

    All we had to do was to stand firm behind our decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our part of the world was at peace. The Arbiter had given us that. Other countries were still at war, each of them still with their binary populations, their menfolk as busy as ever with their collective mischiefs. There’d been threats levelled toward us and against our atrocities to Mankind when our design became known, but we’d regarded it as a winnowing out, selectively breeding our population to remove the roguish elements that had brought about so much trouble to our race. We’d done it by stealth at first, our ministries adding ‘preventants’ to the water we drank and the food we ate, the justification being the pandemics that threatened everyone today. They’d protected us, but they’d also had other more marked but subtle effects, revising our biology minutely until the gender balance swung heavily one way.

      Delete
    2. I have so many questions. Which is an excellent testament to the writing. I want to know more.

      Delete
    3. Yep... this could go a million directions... and I somehow imagine XF23 might have more to say than the narrator suspects! Well done and intriguing.

      Delete
    4. A little slice of a universe...intriguing. "We'd done it by stealth at first..." that hint that there is something hidden among what could be a world of today. Disturbing!

      Delete
  13. When he was a child, he collected Crayola crayons. He loved the melodic names printed on their wrappers even more than the colors themselves.

    Burnt Sienna. Forest Green. Magenta. Burnt Orange. All of them, except one: Flesh. It was a sickly pink, not the color of any flesh he’d ever seen. It was the same shade as a scar, regrown on a gaping wound.

    He’d mastered the art of removing the paper sleeves from the crayons. Warm the crayon in your hand, and twist and slide it off.

    It’d taken another year to figure out how to put the paper sleeves back on.

    In second grade, he succeeded. Well, Mrs. Murphy called it something other than success, but he didn’t care.

    When he opened his magic box of now sixty-three colors and reached for the brown crayon, he knew he’d made truth. It bore the label of Flesh. And he was proud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This piece is ingenious. An old idea, but you breathed new life into it with the narrative. I love this: "It was the same shade as a scar, regrown on a gaping wound." This is a powerful one.

      Delete
    2. Wow, yes! I love it. Aside from the race aspect, I always wondered why the word "flesh," which doesn't conjure up skin for me but the gooey parts under the skin. It's kind of gross, lol.

      Delete
  14. Well, I didn't intend this to happen, but a short flash piece about a castaway turned into an eerie but genuine short story, with a plot arc and everything. I'll post the opening paragraphs here, but I'll link to the rest once I upload it to my blog.
    _______________________

    The Man

    When the ocean vomited him onto the beach, himself vomiting brine, there came a great wind rushing through the palms on the cusp of the jungle, making them twist in an agony of ecstasy.

    The same cruel funnel of cloud that had left him shipless now drove the trees to flex and dance against their will. Vast phantoms reared up from the beach and sandblasted his eyes, and he cried out and staggered. Blinking, he turned seaward and saw only more approaching storms, great thirsting probosces of some terrible parched sky-thing intent on drinking the sea entire.

    The sounds of the trees in the winds and the turbulent surf and the lashing skeins of rain were like the end of something halfway lamented. Flapping limbs of palm were torn away to sail like spurned beseechments toward some inarticulate doom.

    Materials from what had once been his sailboat—pieces of fiberglass hull, part of an antique wooden porthole, and bizarrely, the keyboard half of a laptop—were flung upon the shore in random fusillades.

    His clothes were mostly gone, a series of ragged strips on his bloody skin, but he didn't discard these sorry remnants, retaining enough wits to consider them at least minimal insurance against the eventual heat of a reemergent sun.

    The tempest felt endless. His choice: endure the raw salt excoriation of the sands, or head away from the beach and risk blunt force violence from a freshly liberated branch amid the foliage. He chose the latter, found a hollow by a rock, covered his head with his arms, and waited out the bombardment.

    Squatting there, he thought about his predicament. Assuming the storm would pass without further injury to his person, he knew this was a remote island far from any regular shipping lanes. Its fecundity augured well, in that fresh water must surely be accessible. He considered possible food sources… coconuts… fish… until a moment came when he realized the march of cyclones had passed and a strange still silence had closed in.

    He stood. Like a deer alert to hunters, he balanced on shaky legs and took in the subtle currents and eddies of the suddenly quiet air. His neck crawled with the visceral sensation only prey animals know. He was being watched. Of that he was almost certain.

    Then he heard it. The song of a woman, coming from the adjacent beach. Having slowed in the new silence, his quickening heart rate returned, only this time with hope not terror, and, imagining paradise, he began to walk in the direction of the songstress.

    The Women

    They were two, both women, and they were beachcombing in the wake of this latest storm, one of the pair singing a melancholy song that recalled her childhood far away, in a land whose name now sounded strange, before this catastrophe had left them stranded. They separated so as to cover a larger area more quickly and sang to each other across the distance. Every now and again, one would hear a sound from the breathing greenery beyond the beach and stop and straighten her back and listen, before bending again and singing once more, in clear fragile tones.

    In makeshift hessian slings across their naked shoulders and chests, they carried firewood, bowl-like shells, other detritus from the ocean they gauged might be useful.

    Their tangled locks were blond, their skin darkly lush as young golden rain trees.

    It was late afternoon, but evening fell like a drawn shade here, and they would soon have to return to their shelter to build and nurture a fire for the coming night.

    "Going back," said one.

    "Me too," her sister answered.

    And still they sang.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, ha. Well, I guess no one read it. I'll link to the full version anyway, just in case the odd sad stray stumbles on it and wants closure. lol

      Delete
    2. You guess wrong. And I do want closure. Really well set up piece. And there's something about the tone/pace that pulls the tension. I really dig it.

      Delete
    3. I wouldn't normally be this self-indulgent, but I know this kind of thing is interesting to fellow writers: I began with only an image of a man washed up on the proverbial desert island, and every little decision I made led to another that flowed out of the previous one. I swear I didn't plan anything, but it just unfolded like some poisonous tropical flower (lol, now that was self-indulgent!). I mean, as soon as I'd decided on the two timelines, the question arose, "How did he hear them singing?" and from that came the idea that the things in the trees were mimics, which explained how he'd been fooled. And as soon as I realized he was egotistical and misogynistic, I thought of Trump and his lawyer, so I gave him a possible redemption where he was going to bury the remains of one of the women until he forgot completely when his subconscious tells him he's in danger (so much for loyalty, right?). And the whole siren thing was meant to be a red herring, although in a way it turned out it wasn't because he was lured by what he thought were beautiful women singing. Also, I was going to have only a single woman, but something made me go with two, which is the only way they survived as long as they did, taking shifts for who knows how long? I freaking love the process of fiction creation, and now I've bored you with my own, I'd love to know similar details from others here (although I know not many will see this).

      Thanks for commenting, brother, and thank you Leland too, for commenting on my blog itself. As someone not all that good at plot, it's satisfying when one pretty much helps me by writing itself, lol.

      Delete
    4. Please, be more self-indulgent! I love seeing inside your creative mind! And I liked the whole piece! Definitely check it out, any of you who haven’t already. The link to David's blog is in his first comment.

      Delete
    5. The violence of the storm, countered by the calm afterwards. The word choices made me slow down, and re-read parts of this, never a bad thing.

      Delete

Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.