Friday, March 15, 2019

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.

Let me tell you a story about a plastic milk jug. I sent it to Alabama empty, and it came back filled with a gallon of fire. And what the hell do you do if you get your hands on a gallon of fire? It becomes a burden. It gets heavier than eight-something pounds.

It’s embarrassing.

Yo, I got this liquor that no one wants to drink. You can try to cut it. It is uncuttable. It will burn your insides. But you feel obligated. Boy, you ever drank real shine?

So, I used it to clean the air filter on my motorcycle and it worked better than kerosene. I used it to get tape residue off shit. It worked. Goddamn, it worked.

But I felt like I should drink it. And I did. Mixed a teaspoon into a can of coke and hated myself for hours. Some of that jug went down my throat. Most of it made my old shit sparkly and new again.

What have you ever gotten in a milk jug? Milk?

Square.

#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...#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..  

29 comments:

  1. I am drowning in mouth tooth powder. Erosion. My jaw clenches and I feel the grit in my gums. Taste of blood blossoms to match the half crescents gouged into my palms. I should cut my nails. You should cut your nails. You should shut the fuck up because you don’t get to evaluate me.

    Put down your fucking clipboard.

    I will kill you with suffering. String you out on an anthill in the sun. Covered in honey. It’s a lot of things, but it ain’t a bit funny.

    You can say your took your hands off...how come I still feel em? You said I should spend my emotions, but then you go and steal em. Hear’s the deal slim. You’re worthless, grinning.

    I will pull my spine out for you to see.

    Real talk? I’m never going to do anything but think about it. And it will drive me crazy not you. And it will hurt me more, and you will buy golf pants while I weep poor man’s tears and act tough.

    Bravado of any kind is never enough.

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  2. LOL @ "Mixed a teaspoon into a can of coke and hated myself for hours." Yeah that's about right. And "Real Talk" bristles so much with unending suffering. I felt it.

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  3. You just don’t know, sometimes, if the ice is too thin or you’re too thick to take that step. You might inch out from the shore, reaching as if you’re dipping your tiptoe into what lies beneath to see if it’s too cold. In this case, is it cold enough?

    You might slide your foot out a bit further, your arm reaching at the ready behind you, like a child taking those first steps, from mother's soft to father's rough. Why'd you want to brave the ice anyway? Is it the mortal’s feeling of some messianic miracle-working dream?

    Is it as close to soaring like a bird as any wingless man can achieve? Or is it just the one moment of slick adventure someone who’s never known the slide over risk, the stolen kiss, the swing and miss, can try without feeling the hot sting of embarrassment if you should fail?

    "It'll never kill ya," they all said.

    Then there’s that fearsome sound, the rip and crack of reality, the sudden chill baptism and last rite of truth, and you realize why you never tried to try. But they were right. You succeeded.

    It was the ice that failed.

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    1. Wow... I could hear the ice... and feel the cold. And the last line is perfect.

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    2. Yeah, the last line IS perfect and so is "It'll never kill ya". Nothing like a little adventure.

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    3. Oh. Definitely gave me the chills. I love the third paragraph the most. "...one moment of slick adventure..."

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  4. I could still be dying when I woke up. The dream had been so intense it felt real. A dream within a dream, one in which I died and another with me watching it happen.

    I know it sounds confusing. Just let me explain. In the first dream I was doing housework by myself. Nothing special or difficult involved; mostly trolling for dust bunnies and loose change. That is until the feeling came over me. It was like an apparition overtook me in the dream. And then, suddenly I was having a clear vision of me and you in a car accident.

    Well, it wasn’t really a car. This part will sound really crazy but hear me out. It was a school bus. Something had knocked into the bus so hard it was pushed up and over the short wall above a steep embankment. We were dangling over the precipice about 150 feet above a ravine.

    You’d been hurt badly. There was a ton of blood. There was so much blood all over your crisp white shirt. It almost looked like a gunshot wound. You were on the floor of the bus wedged between two seats holding onto yourself tight.

    I was standing in the middle of the bus, panicking. Trying to decide what to do I scanned everything quickly. The bus driver was out for the count. Maybe dead but more likely just unconscious. His body half strewn over the wheel. The other half of him lying out of his side window, tipping us in the wrong direction.

    I don’t see the kids anywhere.

    I knew I hadn’t said that part out loud. That’s why it seemed so real, I guess. I was acting true to form. I never had a meltdown out loud. I always internalized that crap. Backed it right up until I had no choice but to vomit it out on someone or something that mildly offended me days, or even weeks later.

    You and I had that staying quiet in a crisis part in common. Only you never let it out. At least not on anyone undeserving. I could feel your eyes on me now. And when I looked back down at you, I could feel your will. Be strong it said. Urging me to be smart. Telling me with certainty and no words at all, that I could do it. I could get the hell off this bus. All it would take is a sprint to the back exit. The bus might start to tip but one hard push on the door, then a leap, and I’d be home free.

    I didn’t do that. I slowly slid my foot towards you. You didn’t say anything but your exacerbation with me was tangible. It made me shutter a little, but I kept going.

    When the bus started to tip, I wasn’t even halfway near where you were, so I picked up the pace. Gravity abandoned me as I grabbed hold of your shoulder. You pulled at me roughly with your one good arm, so I was sitting almost on top of you as we began to fall. I just had time to wrap my arms around you before everything went black.

    In a half whispered, slightly annoyed groan, I’m sure I heard you say something right then. My name or at least the name you use for me when we’re usually clutched together like this -- in bed.

    “Magpie.”

    I know I fell, and the ground hit me back hard because when I finally opened my eyes, I knew I was probably dying. I couldn’t move or turn my head. I couldn’t feel or sense you near me. I could feel all my broken bones though, so many I was having trouble registering them all.

    I closed my eyes again. But only for a minute. When I reopened them, I couldn’t see the sky. I was in the house again only I wasn’t cleaning it anymore. The apparition was gone but I was still flat on my back with a full catalogue of hurts and dying.

    Now this was crazy. How could I be dreaming of a dream within a dream and be dying in both? Would I be dead when I actually woke up too? Was that how all the dreams end?

    More importantly, where were you?

    There was only one sure answer. I’d closed my eyes once more.

    And then, I'd wake up for real.

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    Replies
    1. This is powerful and ethereal... and scary.

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    2. "Was that how all the dreams end?" Wow. So many layers here, and I was hanging on all of them.

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  5. “You have fifteen minutes, ma’am.”

    I sat at the glass partition, and I looked into the eyes of a man. Eyes filled with madness. Was it hatred? I couldn’t, and still cannot, say.

    “What do you want from me?” His voice was made tinny by the device that allowed us to speak through the glass that protected me from him. Or did it protect him from me?

    “I just want to know why.”

    “Why? Why what?”

    “Why did you do it. Why did you kill them?”

    He was smug. “Because they were there. Because it was easy.”

    “I don’t believe you.”

    He leaned in toward the glass. “I did it because I could, and because they deserved to die.”
    
“Deserved? What did they do?”

    “They’re taking over the country. They’re stealing our jobs, we can’t say what’s on our mind. We might ‘offend’ them.”

    I had no response.

    “They’re an abomination. Their religion is nothing but violence, kill the infidel, beheadings.”

    “You’ve studied Islam?”

    “I don’t need to. I don’t need to study snakes to know they’re poisonous.”

    “Not all snakes.”

    His eyes opened wide. “You’re one of them!”

    “We’re speaking about you, not about me.”

    “Bloody hell. You’re lily-white and you’re one of them. What, you get knocked up by one of them and they made you convert?”

    “What is your religion?”

    “Christian.”

    “Do you think your religious beliefs justify your murdering so many?”

    “I didn’t hear voices, if that’s what you’re driving at.”

    “No, I’m just curious if you think your God approved of your actions.”

    “My God? The real God, you mean.”

    I waited for him to continue.

    “Of course He does.”

    “Isn’t it curious what we do to each other. Christians, Jews, Muslims. All of us know claim Moses and his ten commandments.”

    “Don’t try to make this a religious class. I know what’s right and what’s not.”

    “So says the man who just committed a mass murder.”

    “Did I kill someone who mattered to you? Why are you asking all these questions?”

    I knew he’d ask. I’d practiced not crying. I’d even practiced my answer. “My son. My five-year-old son.”

    He smiled. He laughed. “Guess he won’t be making any more ragheads…”

    I did not cry. Not one tear.

    “If your kind had a backbone we’d be able to finish this in the streets, once and for all.”

    “Your kind tried that once before—you call them the crusades. And yet, here we all are.”

    He looked up at the clock behind me with a sneer. “Looks like our time is up.”

    “I have one more thing to say to you…”

    “That I’m going to hell? I don’t think so.”

    I paused. “No.” The seconds grew to hours. “I forgive you.”

    He spat at the glass partition, and the guard took him away.

    And I allowed myself the luxury of one tear.

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    Replies
    1. Very powerful. Yes, forgiveness is not for them. It's to keep the best of our own selves secure. A healing piece.

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  6. It is spring everywhere but here. I imagine there are daffodils and buttercups and spring showers.

    Not here.

    Here, the chill of emptiness remains. What might have been snowflakes are instead frozen tears, biting the flesh everywhere they touch. You know what they say about salt in open wounds.

    It’s true.

    Never have I felt your absence more than now. Never have I needed more to feel the warm touch of your flesh. But your flesh lies rotting in a grave I watched them dig and watched them cover.

    Grass does not grow atop your grave. I suspect it never will. The salt from my tears and the tears of heaven will render the ground sterile.

    Wherever you are—your soul, I mean—do you watch me? Do you ache as I ache for just a touch? Perhaps one more kiss?

    Are you lonely? Have you met Einstein and Plato and all the others we used to talk about? And the dogs we raised? The parrot whom we found in the wild and who adopted us? He died shortly after you. From heartbreak, I guess, or because he could not bear to be in the company of only me.

    Sometimes I cannot stand to be in my own company. I draw all the oxygen from the rooms I enter. Candles sputter out, gasping for air.

    And yet, here I am, standing outside in the snow that nowhere else knows as spring.

    I am watching, just in case, against all odds, you send a rainbow.

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    Replies
    1. Achingly beautiful. Familiar feelings that often don't pass quickly enough. Until the rainbows come and they often do.

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  8. Part 1

    Olive got to Aunt Betty’s house first. The “for sale” sign in the front lawn tightened her chest like someone had just punched it. Again. She wanted to turn around and bolt. Go back to the city and her familiar if not mindless comforts. But she’d promised her sister they’d spend the weekend together clearing out the place, or at least start. Even though they both had keys—the odd, rambling Victorian had always been like a second home to them since their parents’ divorce—it was too weird to go inside without Sophie. Not a fraction as weird as Aunt Betty being gone. So she sat in her car in the driveway and did some deep breathing exercises she’d found on her phone.

    The tap on the window made her gasp. She’d been in such a deep state that for a second Olive thought it was Aunt Betty herself, back to see “her girls” one last time. Didn’t help that Sophie looked so much like her. While Olive resembled the women on Dad’s side of the family, pale and corkscrew-curled and rangy, Sophie was an Alden through and through—from her curves and sleek chestnut hair to her dark, mischievous eyes.

    Those eyes were laughing at Olive as Sophie got out of the car.

    For a long moment the two of them stood at the front door as if they were children daring each other to press the doorbell.

    “This is stupid,” Sophie finally said, but didn’t reach for her key.

    Neither did Olive. “It’s like she should still be in there.”

    “Making some kind of awful vegetarian stuff.”

    “And playing that old hippie music.”

    They both started singing the same lyric to the same Bob Dylan song and that broke the spell and then it didn’t matter whose key they used.

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  9. Part 2

    Olive tried not to look too hard at the rooms, each just as she’d remembered them. Shabby but chic, with colorful throws over the worn places. She could easily convince herself that Aunt Betty had only run out to the market and would be back any minute. The way Sophie trailed her fingers over the furniture made Olive think they were sharing the same vibe.

    Once they decided where to start, it was less weird. For a long while, they worked silently except for the coded language of sisters as they made piles of things: toss, donate, treasure…convincing themselves that each decision was what Aunt Betty would have wanted.

    The laundry room was easy. The kitchen and coat closets harder. The bookshelves and record collection a task they mutually decided to hold until Sunday.

    Soon it was late and they were tired and sad and had eaten most of the Chinese takeout Sophie had brought, but neither wanted to be the first one to call it a night.

    “You know what we need?” Sophie teased, gesturing with the last chunk of sesame chicken speared between her chopsticks then popping it into her mouth.

    Olive smiled, thinking of the game Aunt Betty liked to play with them. Then her smile fell. “Jeez, Soph. Sounds kinda morbid now.”

    “She would love it. Seeing us wrapped in her scarves playing princesses.”

    Olive’s chest tightened again. Remembering a Polaroid she’d shown her roommate shortly after she’d gotten the news about Aunt Betty. He’d crowed about how cute she and Sophie had been. “You look like my cousins in their hijabs.” He sighed. “I miss hijabs. They were so elegant. I hate that they’re banned now.”

    She’d filed the comment away—as in, “they were just scarves, and we were playing princesses”—but now it needled at her.

    “What’s wrong?” Sophie asked.

    Olive scraped her chair back from the table and headed for the stairs.

    Sophie followed.

    Olive was already rummaging around in the closet, where the box had been. Not there. In the drawer, where she kept more of them. Not there.

    “They’re gone.”

    “Gone,” Sophie parroted. “What’s gone?”

    The needles burrowed deeper as more clues fell together. Why their mother insisted on going to Aunt Betty’s house alone before the funeral. Why Aunt Betty had made Olive promise never to show her parents that Polaroid, because it would spoil their secret fun. “She got rid of them.”

    “The princess scarves? Aw. They were so pretty.”

    “Pretty…and illegal. She didn’t want anyone finding—” Damn it. She grabbed her phone and hit the speed dial for their mother.

    She didn’t wait for the greeting. “Is there something you want to tell us about Aunt Betty?” Her eyes went to Sophie. “Or…us?”

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    Replies
    1. Oh, this is lovely, and timely, and beautiful. Your characters always jump off the page at me, and with just a sentence or two of physical description, I see them, complete and beautiful. Thank you for this, especially on this day.

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    2. This was awesome. I was riveted and I want more.

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    3. Thank you! There will be more. This feels like the start of something bigger.

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  10. I can’t write about this, so I’ll write about another thing.

    There’s a beautiful sapphire-jade wasp whose body is forged from elfin metal. It’s truly lovely, and it was forged on this bright, astonishing planet. This earth. When it meets a cockroach, an ordinary cockroach, it stings it, paralyzing its front legs, and injects its larvae into the roach’s body. The roach is unfortunately alive. I say unfortunately because far worse is to come, as you’ve doubtless anticipated.

    Next the wasp eats most of the roach’s antennae. Maybe for pure spite, who knows?

    It then leads the crippled victim to its nest, dragging it by the remaining parts of its antennae, like some ruined leash.

    As you’ve probably guessed, the wasp—a dark glittering star in the vespine world—lays a white egg on the living body of the beetle, and after a few days the egg hatches and larvae start to feed on their unwilling host.

    Let me reiterate at this point: none of this is consensual. Just in case you were wondering. And yes, this is fucking bleak.

    So anyway, the larvae chew their way into the living roach and begin to devour its internal organs. During this time, they ensure the roach stays alive while they form at first a pupa and then a cocoon within.

    Eventually, the grown wasp emerges from the body of its host, the wretched abandoned cockroach, wholly unchampioned and alone, still alive and leaky and utterly ravaged like something from a movie rejected by George Romero as too callous.

    So this is the story I can tell, while the one I actually want to tell is drowned by sorrow and horror and the atrocity of truth. Time to reach for the antivenin. Time to admit we might not win this.

    Regardless, how can anyone ignore the heaving grandeur of that tiny pendulous abdomen, brimful of the shrewdest toxins and the bright gleaming ego-dream of need? Dark as it is, this awful thing is framed by the purest, most appalling love.

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    1. Wow. I am blown away. This is devastating, and filled with beautiful despair. I am in awe.

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    2. Stunning. Unusually compelling and sad.

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    3. Bleak and dark, yes, but beautiful.

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  11. On nights like tonight, when the orange of sunset fades and the clouds are crimson and vermillion stripes in the sky, I think of you, and wonder where you’ve gone.

    Did you grow up to be a Marine, like we talked about that summer? Or did you stay on at your dad’s ranch, like he wanted you to?

    Sometimes I imagine you, all married off to the perfect wife, with children whose eyes are the same midnight blue as yours. Perhaps they have your cleft chin. Boys or girls, they will break as many hearts as you did, and just like you, they won’t mean to.

    How young we were, that summer we pricked our fingers and mixed our blood, declaring our secret brotherhood.

    I think the sky was particularly blue that year; at least it was in my memory. And the hayfields so green with all the rain. It’s a wonder my allergies didn’t kick up then like they do now, whenever I smell the sweetness of hay.

    That’s a lie. I don’t have allergies. I cry when I smell hay, remembering you.

    Of all the days that summer, the one I think of most was the one with the big thunderstorm. Do you remember?

    We were at the swimming hole, even though your dad forbade it that day. I wonder now if he knew that there was going to be bad weather, or if somehow he read my mind and my intentions for that day.

    The clouds started off giving us just the right amount of shade. We tore off our jeans and shirts, and swam in our Hanes underwear.

    By our third dive, and by the time I was screwing up my courage, the first thunder sounded, like cannons in an unnamed battle.

    Always pragmatic, you said we needed to get out of the water. We’d just found our clothes when the rain began.

    We ran for the trees, cold water pouring down our bodies. The wind was ferocious and a branch fell, barely missing us. We got our jeans on, but our shirts were soaking wet, and when another clap of thunder came, almost above us, you grabbed me.

    Where our skin touched was the only part of my body that was warm, and the lightning was not the only electricity in the air.

    But my tongue was tied. The words I’d practiced were meant to be said in whispers, not in shouts above the wind.

    When the storm was over, the moment was gone.

    “I need to get home,” you said, and I could only nod.

    We walked in silence back to your house, our shirts tucked into our back pockets, hanging like the tails of whipped dogs.

    Your father was on the porch, and I knew then that he really could read my mind.

    By the time I got back home, he’d called my father to let him know I was no longer welcome at your house.

    The cards were stacked against us. By the time school started that fall, my dad had taken a job in the city.

    So many years ago. So many times I wanted to find you. So many letters written but never sent.

    I hope you are well, my secret brother. And I hope you know joy.

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    1. Oh. This is so beautiful, and joyful, and painful. Love the image of the shirts hanging out like the tails of whipped dogs.

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  12. Wow. Darn that smarts. Beautifully written.

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