Friday, April 29, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

I don't want to do this. I don't want to be here. I don't want you to placate me or try to inspire me; I'm past that. Leave me hanging. The fickle wind will entertain me. The sounds of the night creatures will be my music. The moon will be my muse.

It's not that I don't appreciate it, although I don't. It's not that I'm over the whole thing, fed up, although I am. I am waiting for the hammer strike. I am spinning into oblivion with my eyes wide open. 

You are an artful conductor. That's something to be proud of, I guess. Quite an accomplishment. You are different than the rest of these two-legged fuck factories. Be the beast you were born to be. Rip flesh with your sharp teeth, and revel in the blood. 

When morning comes, I will be gone. You will be a shell of what you were, and that's fine. That's just all right, man. That shit makes some kind of sense. 

Not really, but whatever.


  1. You have a way with words, always. What strikes me about this is that it shows some of the good and some of the bad.

    1. I don't know why my comment went away, but let's try again. I love the way good and bad tumble around. Loved the spin into oblivion.

    2. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Your first-person narrator appears disengaged from the action and seems to be waiting for whatever’s going to happen before the next morning. I read some measure of respect here for the subject they’re addressing; I see this as a rite of passage that the narrator’s witnessing, as though they’re a mentor or someone who’s passing a baton on to their successor. It seems as though there’s as much to be lost as there is gained in the process, although it appears to me that there’ll be no winners in the end.

      There’s so much in this and it’s full to the brim with tension. It’s an awesome piece of writing and it’s 100% you. It’s amazing, but I always expect this from you, Dan.

      I’m rarely disappointed when I read your work, though.

  2. I want to think I'm better than those stupid fuckers who stick their heads in the sand and believe anything their chosen leader said. I want to think that I am brave for breaking the cycle of violence and hate. I want to think that I'm more enlightened and smarter than most.

    The truth is that I'm so scared that I have opted to let life happen to me. I stay the course while feeling good about myself because I've made a few right choices. So has everyone else. There are people with way better track records than me who are living in homeless communities right now.

    We are all one choice away from making a decision that could alter our lives in drastic ways. Just because I let the choices make me doesn't mean that I'm doing better than your average person. It actually means that I don't have much to show for my life.

    What about you? Do you feel like you are better than the rest of us? You're not, you know. Neither am I. Neither is he. She's just as inept and deserving as the rest of us. That's one thing I am almost proud of. I understand that entitlement is easy to justify and hard to swallow when you're not the one shoveling it into someone's mouth. It's seductive. It's persuasive. It tells you that if the people around you knew your situation they would understand why you have to break the rules. I also know that the person next to me who didn't try to cut in line has a story, too. Theirs might be more compelling than mine. Most of the time I can keep my want to wander into the land of Entitlement in check by reminding myself that I am surrounded by people who deserve just as much respect as I do.

    Sometimes I fail that dice roll. Sometimes I throw tantrums. I excuse stupid choices because I don't want to be wrong. I speed down a soon-to-be-closed lane and then try to nudge into the open lane. What can I say? At the end of the day, I'm human. I just wish I knew if that was good or bad.

    1. (so many hugs) Humaning is hard. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. Often the "good thing" that I should have done doesn't occur to me until I've left the scene. I don't know why it comes so naturally to others but I miss it.

    2. And now Erin too.

      You’re picking up on a similar vibe to Dan. You’re bitter and militant and writing such a tightly voiced narrative here. I know there’s so very much to kick out against, but there’s respect here too, alongside the bile. I read this as though it could have been inspired by what Dan wrote at the top of the page and you’ve managed to follow it and at least match it with your own brand of eloquence and drive.

      Phenomenal. I’m awestruck.

    3. I really dig this. The introspective chastise, the flow. There is a solidity to this piece. It reads like a fed up epiphany

  3. Her grandmother’s stories about the drawing of the shirtless man with the fire in his eyes didn’t add up. But every time Anya pressed for details, she would either wave it off as ancient history or pretend she didn’t remember.

    Didn’t remember? Anya was aghast. How could a woman forget such a man! One that she’d obviously had such strong feelings for—passion in the blazes of charcoal, hatred in what could only be a bullet hole singed into the center of the page (it was too big for a cigarette burn). Her grandmother didn’t smoke but did have a formidable pistol, a relic from the war, and she was quite proud of it. Yet…if she had such fury for this man that she’d use his image for target practice, why save what remained?

    Many nights, when she was weary from her studies but too agitated to sleep, Anya pondered her grandmother’s mysteries. The break in the timeline of her life between bohemian art teacher in Kyiv to shuffling babushka bringing day-old bread and yellow blooms standing in for sunflowers. “Someday, you will tell me,” Anya often said, and her grandmother would give her that same secret smile.

    That afternoon, Anya promised herself not to be so easily dismissed. She set a fine little teatime table for the two of them, at its center an apple tart she’d just warmed in the oven, and after the mealtime blessing, she was thinking of how to start the conversation.

    “This is nice,” Grandma said, pointing to the plate with her fork. “And you made it yourself? Apples from that tree out back?”

    Anya blushed. The lot behind her building was private property, but she’d never seen any interest in the fruit other than the woodchucks and rabbits enjoying whatever fell within their reach, so what was the harm in picking a few? Or at least she’d told herself that at the time.

    “Y-yes, I made it. But I should have asked first.”

    Grandma gave a tired smile, a press of her cool hand across Anya’s. “Tateleh. Unless you are taking from those hungrier than you, there is no need for shame. And I know, it is far more tempting to hope for forgiveness rather than asking permission.”

    In her grandmother’s weary eyes, Anya guessed at some of her history. Of a woman who did what she normally wouldn’t in the name of survival. Of the permissions she hadn’t asked, of the forgiveness she hadn’t or wasn’t granted.

    “Eh, if it still weighs on you, make him one of these with the fruit. He would be foolish not to forgive you.”

    “Grandma, tell me about the man.”

    “What, your neighbor there? We’ve never met.”

    “Ugh. No! The man in the portrait.”
    Grandma studied a bite of tart on her plate, her wiseass smile melting.

    “Was he my grandfather?”

    The old eyes speared hers. “What kind of lies did your Russian mother fill your head with?”

    Anya dropped her gaze to the napkin in her lap.

    A sigh came from across the table. Grandma had to know bringing up her mother was dirty pool. There was no forgiving what that woman had done. “Fine,” her grandmother said. “You want me to tell so I’ll tell. I don’t know.”

    Anya could only blink in response.

    “What. There was a war. Things happen in war.”

    The permutations were like a series of punches to Anya’s stomach. “You were… What my teachers said about the Russian soldiers—?”

    “Enough,” Grandma said. Then with a softer voice, “Enough talk. Look around you. The sun is shining. The birds sing. We have this wonderful tart made with stolen apples. So, we eat.”

    1. You’re so very consistent too, Laurie. You write with such charm and wit. Always. You create such vividly detailed dioramas with your words and breathe life into the characters you present. I love the throwaway detail you’ve brought to our attention; the shirtless man, the bullet hole in the page, the bread and sunflowers, the woodchucks and the rabbits – but you also direct and animate the action of the narrative too, bringing emotion and family history into your creations. This could easily be made into a screenplay and I’m sure it would be successful.

    2. The characterization and dialogue are so on point. I agree about the consistency, too. Always a home run.

  4. Flames chased along the length of the ribbon, unlooping the ties that bound his letters together. Our last twenty years were quick to burn away, each word I’d echoed flaring into life one final time as the ink caught, the fire digesting every thought he’d ever shared. They were nothing more than elaborate lies threaded upon the slender truths he’d offered. Our whole lives had been a tapestry of deceit, my naïvety interweaved with promises he’d never meant to keep. This would be the end to all we had ever done; a funeral wake for the awoken and the thief.

    And yet, I was still incomplete. There was so much I would have to unpick, memories I would need to revisit. Was there ever a time he'd been sincere? Or had he always been like that, a man with an eye that saw everything askew, speaking through lips simultaneously sweet and salt? Maybe the fault was originally mine, with me never measuring up to what he had asked from me. This ritual burning was only a short intermission in my life. I had better things to do with the precious time remaining to me.

    I took a sip from my cup and spat into the ash. My eyes were sore, reddened from the smoke and something more. I had been a fool, too hopeful, too ready to believe, far too keen to leap ahead.

    I had learned a lesson from life, the painful way.

    I had gained experience. The truth wasn’t always what we believed. I had been complicit in my delusions, listened without thinking, trusted without question, and I'd shared without an expectation it would be returned.

    I would bury the gun beside his body and leave the state.

    I would never make this mistake again.

    1. This is so dope. I love the internal rhyming and the rhythm of the language. The way it unfolds is really beautiful, and that ending is a killer. Super cool piece.


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