Friday, April 28, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Let the sun heal you, warm on your skin like caramel. The breeze will wash you clean, the flower scent will calm you. Give yourself up like a baptism. This is the way you honor the mother. This is the way you can reset yourself. No chanting or hymns, just wind and sun and maybe a small stream. Maybe a pond. Maybe the ocean, but, wherever it is, you need to be near water. 

Just because you live in a box with temperature control doesn't mean you aren't part of the network - you're a circuit. A microchip. Just like Queen Anne's Lace and cow shit. 

Try to distance yourself and you'll stumble. Too far, and you might get lost. So, get your ass to the forest, the beach, the river. Plug yourself back into the heartbeats all around you. Stop staring at screens for a few minutes and just live. Breathe. 

Think about your place. 


  1. I now want to go up a mountain, gaze at a lake and breathe... switch off all the digital and be one with nature.

    1. I'm now imagining myself as a kid lying in a big grassy meadow dotted with Queen Anne's lace while the creek rippled by and my brother fished for trout. Ahhh. So much better. Thank you.

    2. There's nothing as cleansing as nature. Even if you're a city dweller, a window box will do. Just to focus on something outside yourself for a moment and forget the crap.

      Excellent, as always, Dan.

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  3. This is a quick first draft that I wrote after midnight last night before crashing. Today, I wrote a second, longer draft on my blog -


    We are but the darkest glass,
    prisms turning, starkest shine,
    and here in glass we reside.

    We see the surging rush of sea below
    and the stillest tranquil sky above,
    view the aching oceans deep
    with scarlet love, and we ourselves
    are but glass, spinning, twisting,
    a realm of secret colour undefined,
    strong, yet ever breakable,
    our fragility misting our acumen.

    Stones can shatter us,
    and yet we dwell with them,
    our eyes collecting our memories,
    all the things that make us human,
    our passions, our witless empathy,
    all so steeped in hue, in fragile words,
    and we can never be forsaken
    to one another. For we are, in our minds,
    as we are, purest glass.

    1. I love the imagery you use and the way you make this look so easy. You're so articulate and I wish I had the empathy and vision you have. Wonderful, Vickie!

    2. Man, the language and word choices here are so strong. I agree with MM, you always make it look effortless, but the care of craft shines through. - JD

  4. It must be nice to live a social media life, he thought. He read about other people's lives each day, living out their best lives, taking advantage of newfound liberties, travelling the world after they retired. Each day was a kaleidoscope of colour and exhilarating experiences, waking up excitedly in a new foreign city each day, eating the types of meals he’d seen on tv cook shows, not knowing what adventures they’d enjoy tomorrow. It was a Sunday magazine dream life, and he wished it was his. It seemed like he had nothing to look forward to but beige, and that even that would have gone grey by the time he reached it.

    His life was grim. With only the one ‘m.’ He’d given up on the idea of fairy tales many years ago, in that other land where he’d been youthful and energetic, and his options had been too many to count. His todays were always the same as his tomorrows: that was the problem he faced. A life with a mind-numbing future he’d only coast through, not wanting to engage with it, knowing it would only disappoint him if he did. He saw no reason to look ahead; that would require an optimism he didn’t have. He already knew what tomorrow would bring - another today that would be a carbon copy of the day he’d suffered the day before. Repeat and rewind, forever and ever, Amen. Doing over until the day he died.

    He remembered being young. That was the cruellest thing. He remembered being alive and vibrant, making plans, and looking ahead to being older. He remembered a life when he did things; he travelled the country, living the dream albeit with the knob dialled down to five, knowing times were hard but with every confidence they’d get better. He’d only have to wait, be patient, try to save a little more and look ahead. It would all come together after his mortgage had been paid off. He’d have money to burn; his life would be better than it had ever been, and he’d have the time and the fitness to enjoy it.

    He remembered being naïve. Optimistic. He remembered buying into the fantasies he’d been fed, ignoring the recollections of his parents. They’d lived in earlier times: things always got better, and the world had radio, tv and computers the size of a room. We’d even put a man on the moon and the stars were almost within reach. We didn’t live in medieval times. We had vaccines and science and a grasp that almost exceeded our imaginations. Things always got better. That was a fact. He would wait it out and take advantage of that.

    He'd had everything planned.

    Thirty years on. His parents had died. And so had one of his younger siblings. Cancer. Pneumonia. And cancer again. That was the order that they went in. And nothing was more certain than that his dreams were all dead. And that it would be too late to reclaim the time that he’d lost. Reality really was a bitch; his life had to be lived now, but money had to be his primary consideration.

    What he’d give to have his naivety back. For just a few minutes, once or twice a day, his dreams reliably keeping him afloat.

    The waters were cold. And the ocean was wide. And its depths were unimaginably deep. And he was a swimmer, tired and plagued by cramps, far out from the sight of the land, alone at night.

    1. Bleak but so well written. I love that last paragraph. I so want him to find peace.

    2. Wow. Agreed on the bleak, but I think you accurately captured a really relatable and common mindset. The bleakness makes you empathize with everyone who has ever felt this way. - JD

    3. love this, too : living the dream albeit with the knob dialled down to five,

  5. The door of the pod irised open. Inside, the remains of Hargreaves waited, hot meat and fresh ordure with a splash of red that filled the compartment. It was another failed experiment in a series of catastrophic results. The main problem was that nobody knew why The Machine would no longer work.

    Of course, it wasn’t Hargreaves that had been atomised. At least, not Hargreaves Prime. It was just one of more than a hundred iterations they’d produced, one at a time, creating a new one for each individual experiment. There was a limit to how much fresh meat they could reproduce every day, and the lab technicians had to resort to recycling the results of the failures from the day before. It was less of a strain on the replication machines; it only needed to be recombined and then given the spark of life it required to be able to respond. It was carnage here, seven days a week, but they were closer to discovering what had gone wrong.

    Hargreaves Prime had been reassigned. He’d only lasted three weeks until the repeated trauma had made it impossible for him to continue. It didn’t matter whether he was in the same building or a dozen miles away: he’d be incapacitated, whatever they did. There were rumours that the Hargreaves they’d kept was a copy and that the original Prime had been lost, the brain bleeds and migraines and the physical convulsions the earlier trials had produced being too much for an unenhanced mortal to endure. It was quite possible, but it was unlikely that the truth would come out.

    But until then, the Earth was isolated. For the first time in a century. We’d gone beyond rocketry and payloads and boosters; that was all such a thing of the past. There was an old Saturn V heavy lift vehicle lying gutted at Cape Canaveral and another at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, but neither would ever be used again. They were just relics held together by string and nostalgia, exhibits to show everybody how dumb we’d been then and to show how much better our science and technology are now. It was like it had been the dark ages. Everything was quantised. Physical science was steam power and sailboats; fossil fuels were a mistake we should never have made.

    And the world moved on. Until it stumbled again. But by then, we were on Mars and the asteroids, never thinking to look back. Our uncertainties had been comprehensively explored and charted, becoming a cornerstone of everything we used. We couldn’t prepare sushi without a molecular microtome or a Heisenberg hot air autoclave unit. We had technology that could do anything – we’d even been able to outlaw the infernal combustion engine and the wheel.

    Science could do everything. Until our probabilities turned to mud, returning us to analogue, thermionic valves, and Marconi radios.

    1. This has that awesome mid-century sci-fi vibe to it. It's not like it's derivative in any way, but there are echos of Bradbury, Vonnegut - I think this could be the start of something much bigger. - JD

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  7. He wakes with a start, sticky-eyed, head pounding, checks the time. Croaks out for her—why didn’t you get me up, I have to be at the studio—but then he remembers. No wife. No job. He falls back against the pillow. Stares at the ceiling, wills the patterns in the tiles to make sense. Wills anything to make sense. Who is he, now that they’ve taken his name, ripped away the persona he’d so carefully cultivated? Is that why she needed to get away from him, without so much as a conversation, because without his success he’s just…nothing? Just the “dumb fuck in a bowtie,” as his father-in-law had called him?

    Despair flows through him, turning his body into lead. He’d enthusiastically reinvented himself after past misadventures—he refused to call them failures—but doesn’t know how to even start now. Or if he even wants to.

    “Come now,” a voice says. “You’d have it all back in a heartbeat if you could.”

    His gaze darts around the room. “What the—Rush? Is that you?”

    A deep laugh flows over the man’s prone body, along with an aroma of sulfur and brimstone. “As if. ‘Talent on loan from God’ my scarlet behind. Talent on loan from me, was more like it.”

    No. It can’t be. Ailes? The man struggles to lift his upper body from the mattress. His head swirls. He presses his hands to his temples, trying to remember if he’d signed anything in some alcohol-induced haze, but nothing came to mind. “You think I’m that desperate that I’d call out for you?” He tried for one of his trademarked maniacal giggles, but it only made him cough and wheeze.

    “So pathetic,” the voice says. “Do you really believe you got this far by not calling out for me for a little…moral support? Sweetheart. I’ve got the receipts. We made a deal. One soul for one second chance, to be negotiated at a later date. Apparently at the time you weren’t that desperate, but I kept this little honey on the table for you. And I think you just might be ready to talk to me now.”

    The man’s mouth rounds. Then softens. Would it really be so bad? To be back on set, to reclaim his power – and maybe a little something more. Maybe, if he played this right, he could—

    “Run the place? Oh, I’m sure you could. With a little help from me, of course.”

    A tiny bubble of glee rises up from the man’s chest. Thinking of whom he’d destroy first…it would be so much fun. He smiles. “Got a pen?”

    The voice laughs. “Got a pen, he says. Pauses, then adds “Or should I say ‘she’?”

    The smile falls.

    “I know, sweetheart,” the voice purrs. “You’ve never felt comfortable in that body. Well. We can make this part of the deal. Be the woman you’ve always felt yourself to be. And wield the boundless power you’ve been craving your entire adult life. One stroke of the pen and it can all be yours.”

    His insides shudder. He gazes down at the soft flesh of his chest and belly, the thin T-shirt material draped over them. Thinking about the secret he’d had to hide from the world. Hide from his wife and family. Hide from himself. What if…he could be the person he was always meant to be? How affirming and powerful would that feel on its own? But how could he square that with— “Can I… If we do this, can I change my name?”

    “Of course,” says the voice. “Change your name, change your body, change…whatever you like. Be the person you believe you were always meant to be.”

    The man’s next words came out soft, halting. “Can… can I be a Democrat?” He drops to a whisper. “Can I be… Nancy Pelosi?”

    “Easy peasy,” the voice says. “Sign right here.”

    1. lol - I love it when you put current events into the flash fiction. Nancy Pelosi!

  8. It was worth the wait. I'm not an American, so I probably missed out on some of the nuances and the background to this, but it's a fabulously written witty piece. Bravo, Laurie!


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