Category Archives: Prose

A Study in Safety Hazards

sherlock-empty-chair2-672x372

She sat sipping her glass of pinot noir delicately, balancing the glass between two fingers and watching the burgundy contents inside swish. He didn’t understand how she could be so calm under the circumstances. They had just come back from the morgue after having examined the body of one Mr. JacksonMcArthur, a victim of what appeared to be a vicious fire started by some careless home cooking.

Mrs. McArthur sat in their living room, looking rightly lost among the many filing cabinets, mis-matched furniture and clusters of red wine bottles resting unopened on almost every available surface. He had no idea why she would ask this woman who had just lost her husband to come in for questioning. The case itself wasn’t even that atypical, nothing like the bizarre serial homicide or unexplained disappearance cases they usually took on. But it wasn’t his job to choose the cases, she was the master detective, not he.

“Tell me about that night once more, Mrs. McArthur.” her voice was nonchalant. He recognized the tone, she was done. The case was technically solved in her head, how long it had been that way, he would never be able to tell. She was now merely going through the motions for the police. External evidence he could hear her telling him as she had from the beginning, for those incapable of the simple acts of seeing and thinking.

“Jackson came back a little drunk as I was making dinner. He had been doing that more often, work troubles, you see…” Mrs. McArthur’s voice had the tendency of trailing off at the ends of her sentences as if she wasn’t really sure whether what she had said constituted a full thought, afraid of the finality of a statement. “He got himself a glass of wine and started throwing a fit at me in the kitchen—he’d gotten into the habit of throwing these fits. I didn’t know how to deal with them. I—I do what I can, we don’t make much but I—I do what I can— ” her voice had begun to tremble and he gave the aloof female detective an meaningful glare, the type he reserved for when she would cruelly toy with people’s emotions for the sake of the case.

She rolled her eyes at him, in a single movement telling him he was showing too much sympathy for the client. Nevertheless, she set the wine glass down and respectfully turning to face the poor woman, appearing at least to listen attentively, she prompted, “and then the fire…”

“Oh! The fire! Oh!” her elderly features changed, contorting into one of fear as she sunk further into herself, “He was having his fit and coming towards me, I didn’t—I didn’t know what to do, I was scared. He was all rough tempered and kept coming up to me until we was in the living room. That’s when I heard the first sizzle.”

He didn’t want to listen to the story again. She was making the poor woman relive the horror of her husband’s death again, recounting all the facts they had already had from the police report. The building had gone in flames, luckily after most residents were evacuated. Among those not evacuated were Mr. McArthur and the young woman in the unit directly below. Mrs. McArthur, one of the last to leave the building, smoky and charred in some places herself was being charged with second degree murder.

He didn’t believe it, of course, but the evidence was stacked against the poor woman. The fights she and her husband had had were broadcast through the thin walls of the building as were the affair he was having with the lady in 3B downstairs; both public service announcements that were now being used as motive and proof of killing intent against Mrs. McArthur. To the public it was too coincidental that a whole building could go up in smoke with the only two casualties being the husband and his mistress of an unhappy wife, especially when said fire started in her apartment during one of their infamous spats.

“Thank you so much, Mrs. McArthur.” She was seeing the fragile woman out the door, “I assure you your name will be cleared within the week.”

He waited for the door to close before asking, “What was that? How do you know she is innocent?”

“Don’t you ever pay attention? I asked her over here after going to see the body at the morgue so that you could hear the story again and hopefully see how undoubtedly obvious it is that she didn’t kill anyone!” He gave her a blank look, she sighed. “Why do I even try?” She wandered back to her wine glass and picked it up before gingerly setting herself in an armchair. “Open that file cabinet over there. Third drawer, fifth file from the back.”

He was surprised; he was not usually allowed near the file cabinets. They were intimately hers, a physical replication of all the information she had stored in her brain. To rifle sans permission through them would be a crime manifold times worse than murder.

Trying not to appear too eager as he weaved his way through the living room over to the aforementioned cabinet, the possibilities of what this drawer could contain, breezed through his mind too fast for him to process. The drawer, he could tell, was old, had seldom been opened and contained a meagre 11 vanilla folders hanging, and the fifth from the back was one labelled, ‘safety hazards.’ Inside were papers detailing the deaths of Tom Pryce in 1977 and Humberto Hernandez in 2007. Both died from blunt force trauma to the head by fire hydrant.

“What is this…” he tried processing the information, replaying the supposed scene of the crime in his head with the images of Mr. McArthur’s corpse in the morgue.

“It’s a problem that I haven’t had enough evidence of to bring to the department of health and safety. But this case should give me what I need, especially since otherwise the justice system would have convicted an old innocent women.” He looked up from the files at her blankly, still not comprehending. “Oh come now! It’s obvious! Don’t you see! Mr. McArthur was found in his apartment, the fire hydrant turned weapon not far from his person. While the hydrant has been neglected by incompetent police investigators as circumstantial, further inspection of the deceased’s body proves otherwise. If we weren’t living in a society so prone to pointing fingers and so wanting a scapegoat, none of this murder accusation mess would have ever happened!” She gulped happily at her wine, “Also if we lived in a society where the tools meant to save us were just as dangerous themselves, a lot of these sorts of accidents turned murders wouldn’t occur!”

He put the files away, quietly ruminating over the recent developments as he settled himself into an armchair opposite hers. She was amazing from her penchant for red wine to the file cabinets of her mind that stored enough information that could rival the encyclopedia. Her ability to observe and read into the details of what she saw to analyze and unearth the truth was unrivaled, truly living up to her name. She was satisfied with herself, he could tell. Case closed, another day’s work as master detective. And as he sat there watching her pour herself a fifth glass of wine, he was reminded that this was just another day in the life of Margaret Holmes.


First trial into detective/mystery fiction! Sort of….ehehe I got lost in the details of my own murder mystery and it sort of changed directions. Whoops. Let me know what you think!

The deaths by fire hydrant mentioned are real and were found on wikipedia. Read more about odd deaths here.

image courtesy of google and of course from the BBC series Sherlock.

Your prompt: Filial Piety

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose

The Consistency of Life: II

Once more with feeling

He stumbled through the front door, wearily leaning against its aged frame as he set his massive hammer down in the dent it had created over the years. The apartment was dark except for the faint whispers of light that slipped past his large figure only to be plunged into the dark interior. His hand absentmindedly felt for the light switch and having flicked them on, the large man settled down in the entranceway, undoing the numerous buckles on his person, slowly peeling himself away from his job.

Long day at the office?”

There are whispers of an old life in this apartment. Whispers that haunt him but it’s a haunting with good intentions and he can’t bear to part with it.

Finally removing the last piece of armor from his body, he gathered the pieces in his arms and entered the body of the apartment.  The armor is dumped into a large basin for polishing and he contemplated just not doing it. An instant meal is thrown haphazardly into the microwave. He contemplated just not waking up tomorrow. Staring into the dull yellow light of the outdated machine heating his food, he contemplated not waking up to a basin full of armor to don, and hammer to wield.  He contemplated the state of modern society; how much it’s changed, how much it’s changed him.

The unnecessarily loud ding! of the microwave shook him out of his reverie.  Picking up his decidedly unsatisfactory looking meal he sat and ate.

The superhero business is not what it used to be. Glory days of tights, spandex and underwear worn not so under were long over. To right the wrongs of the 21st century a superhero only needed the ability to make things go boom backed by an unyielding sense of justice or righteousness or…something. He didn’t know; he only knew that he certainly didn’t have it. Explosions and showmanship, saved damsels and monuments erected in one’s honor; superheroes were always in the right. Their novelty meant their means weren’t questioned. What they stood for, that something he so clearly lacked, meant they were beacons of hope, a fleeting glimpse into the vast potentials of the future.

When he looks down at his overly massive hands, “vast potential of the future” was not something he saw. Hope was not something he felt he represented. At the end of the day, he would catch the bad guy because it’s your duty. It’s the right thing to do. But his success would be met with more glares than applause. As he would walk the criminal to the holding station, he would walk through the damage of his latest arrest. Craters blown in sidewalks, windows shattered, homes destroyed all for this one criminal.

But you’re helping. Every bit matters for the future—for our future.

He doesn’t want to but he remembers.

“Long day at the office?” he remembers her asking jokingly after a long day’s work. He remembers the way her voice sounded, soft and light and melodious.

“You can’t shirk your responsibilities like that! What about the rest of us normal people? It’s your job to stick up for us, to protect us!” Her stubbornness, a trait he lacked that she had in abundance. He would like to think some of it rubbed off on him, “Catch the bad guy, it’s simple and it’s the right thing to do.”

She was born normal in a world where normal was second class and to a first class family. He was born a hundred years too late to decide his future. Born after the establishment of the S-Class Workforce Agency, he was registered as a superhero not thirty minutes after his birth. Registered, meaning it was decided he would spend his lifetime fighting crime and smiling for pictures, answering to the government who called him by a name of their choosing. He was to join the ranks of previous heroes, uphold the standard and use his powers for good, never otherwise, never for himself. The power he was born with determined his identity and gave him an identity that he could never really claim as his own.

He was a machine working for the Agency that told him who to arrest but never why. They said the man was “bad” and should be imprisoned for the benefit of society but not how. She, when she came into his life, she taught him both.

He could almost feel her small hand on his cheek as he dozed off on the couch, could almost hear her voice, “You cantankerous bastard, the world will still need you to save it and bust crime tomorrow, I can’t lose you now…”

——————————————————————————————————————-

The alarm clock in the bedroom woke him up from his place on the couch. It was 5:30am and the sun itself only peeked over the horizon, not yet ready to begin the day.

He rolled over on the couch and shifted his position to face the sunrise eyes blinking rapidly in adjustment to the light. She would say it was a beautiful day. She would laugh and pull the curtains open with gusto, embracing the light, feeling the warmth. The sun didn’t have the same effect on him. Standing by the window, sun shining on his large figure, he felt numb. Dragging his feet over to the basin to begin polishing his armor, he felt empty.

“Oh come on! You get to go beat people up! Better than being stuck behind a desk all day.”  Her words, said long ago, echoed in the room, bouncing off him and sending shudders up his arms. “Yea, I get to chase after cars I have no hope of catching up to, and destroy valuable property in the process. I’m so happy.” He responded to the air, not unkindly; he would never be unkind to her. Putting on his armor, a routine process, took him no time and soon he was at the door, smiling ruefully at the now fully awake sun.

He remembered, on that last day, how she smiled at him when he would say things like that, kissing him on the cheek and patting his helmeted head, “Now say you’re happy, once more, with feeling.”

The door closed softly behind him, as he slipped his hammer into its holster and his eyes hardened and set in determination, telling himself just once more…

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose

Surrender your Senses!

senses

Wind rushing through his hair, battering his face and the thrill in his belly as gravity pulls Jeffrey down a roller coaster. The taste of hot chili burning his throat, with the aroma of cinnamon apple cider floating in the air as he sits by a cackling fire on a cold winter night enjoying the chill of glass on his forehead and watching the snow fall. The smell of fields of roses, the softness of their petals on his skin, their brightness of color, luscious red and deep green passing before him as he runs, warm spring air on the cool sweat dripping down his face, smiling and feeling every wrinkle form around his mouth. He felt so free, assaulted by an assortment of sensory matter all at once, everything stimulated, everything engaged. And then nothing.

At first Jeffrey thought he was dead. He was unfamiliar with complete numbness like this outside of what he had experimented with on his Stimulus. But that time numbness was preceded by biting cold and had crept up on him slowly from his extremities to his core. It was not a pleasant experience and he did not repeat it. Confused, he tried going back to his field of flowers, thinking ‘Fields of roses, warm air, running,’ but nothing happened. He tried a couple more times before finally cursing the warranty, promising the manufacturers a strongly worded letter and opening his eyes to complete blackness. ‘Oh God, I’ve gone blind!’ Instinct brought his hands to his eyes only to come in contact with hard plastic and a painful ripping sensation from his forearm. Remembering that these were all parts of the Stimulus, he pushed the head piece back and sat up blearily.

The room was dark with a heavy layer of dust on everything, as if no one had lived in it for years, decades even. He noticed the stench first. It was decay, as if he were surrounded by all things dead and dying, much worse than anything he had ever imagined in the Simulator. He began a cough but almost immediately upon opening his mouth, wished he hadn’t. The god awful stench had an inconceivably worse taste. ‘What was this? What sort of hell have I woken up in?’

He tried not to scream as he removed the other applicators from his arms, legs and torso, making it his goal to put as much distance between him and this foul cave as possible. Stepping off the Simulator and onto the floor was like walking into an anthill with all the little dust particles scurrying up his legs as he made his way around the room looking for the exit. He spotted a door on the far wall and made for it, all the way feeling like he was moving through an atmosphere that more resembled a molasses of feces, clinging to his body.

Slamming it shut behind him, he was greeted with dusty wind, slightly fresher air and a set of stairs. With nowhere else to go, he made his way down hating with every step the feel of coarse carpet in between his toes, the creak and thump of the stairs. The look of the place was grey scale. Things were hard to distinguish as one grey blended into another, as if he had really become partially blind. Jeffrey felt blind, or at least impaired. In the room, the sensation of dirt was so abrupt he hardly had time to realize the numbness he had first associated with death was still with him. Every sensation was somehow less, like he was wearing a thick body suit. ‘Was this my house?’  Something in the architecture resounded in him a distant familiarity.

Yes, he had lived here. He remembered he lived alone and had never been the neatest guy but he hired a cleaning service. There was no reason why everything should be covered in such filth. All this he realized as he made his way to his front door and when he stepped out into the burning sunlight, things made less sense.

If he wasn’t blinded before he thought he surely was now. The pure real sunlight burned his skin and seared his eyes. It was far from being the pleasant warmth he enjoyed in the Stimulus and in combination with the muggy, moisture laden air Jeffrey felt as if he were being cooked alive. Once his eyes had adjusted he slowly took in his surroundings. Neglected, everything was neglected. What little he had remembered of his hometown had become a collection of over grown grass, smashed windows and liter. Nothing had really changed but like an absent minded child will forget what they are holding when presented with something new and exciting; the town had been dropped and simply forgotten.

There was a shuffling to his left. Jeffrey thought he had imagined the noise and that his eyes were fooling him with the sight of a small figure in the distance but when it happened again he turned to pursue it. He ran and tripped, falling face first on to the rough gravel. Cursing this uncanny world he woke up in, he stood shakily up and continued. There was adrenaline pumping through his body as he ran and for once he felt normal again. Vaguely aware of the blood dripping down his leg and the sting of the little rocks embedded in his skin from his earlier fall, he didn’t care. The metaphorical body suit had been shed and it was like he was feeling for the first time. Never mind the air was laden with moisture and dust, or that the gravel cut into his feet as he ran. His senses were tingling; it was smell, taste, sound, sight and touch all at once and he loved it.

“Hey! Hey you!” Jeffrey had almost reached what he now saw was a small child of perhaps eight years of age when he stopped.

The child was hideous.

Dark sun baked skin overed in scars, some fresh, raw and red others completely healed but contorted her skin’s surface, she looked up at him as he approached, curious.

“H-hi?” Jeffrey suddenly didn’t know what to do. He had been so caught up in seeing another person, in the run to reach this other person that he hadn’t thought what he might say. Sure, he had questions but something told him a little girl was not going to have the answers. He bent down to her level, that’s what he was supposed to do, right?

“Umm, hey, could you by any chance take me to your parents? Mom and Dad?” Jeffrey was awkward but to his credit the girl just kept on staring at him. He put his arm softly on her shoulder, repressed a cringe at the contact of his hand with marked flesh and gave her what he hoped was an earnest look. She, to his surprise, licked him very quickly and before he could react, bit down on his wrist.

“Ow! God, what the he—“The girl cut him off with her cry. Jeffrey had no idea what was going on. She had bit him yet she was the one crying. “Look, honey, I’m sorry.”

“No!” she yelled, “No sorries. No ows! No sound! No feeling! It’s not allowed!”

Jeffrey was very confused now. What was she talking about? “No, don’t cry. I’m okay see?” He held up his wrist, the teeth marks she had left facing away from her. “All bette—ow!”

She had bit him again, harder and this time she trashed as if his arm were a chicken leg whose meat she was tearing from bone.

“Sarah! Did you find anything over there?” A deep voice came from behind the girl, and she released him to look at the approaching figure. As soon as his arm was free he raced towards the approaching figure, to his chagrin Sarah followed swiftly after him. She got there first and tugged at the man’s shirt, pointing a blaming finger at him. The man looked up at him as he slowed to stop. His eyes travelled up and down his body, hungry and appreciative. Jeffrey felt like he was being appraised. “Good job, Sarah. He will do just fine.”

“Do fine for what?”

Sarah giggled up at him and then took his arm and nibbled on it before pulling away and looking proud of herself. Grabbing his hand, she began leading him down a path at the end of which he saw campfire smoke.

Not once did she bite him again (for which he was thankful) or look back at him or speak to him again. He followed her blindly, focusing first on her young yet calloused hands curled roughly around his fingers and then on his surroundings. They walked down Jeager Street; it was one he was familiar with and played often on as a child. It looked unchanged from his memory and he welcomed a path free of broken glass and upturned garbage bins. He began to smell things other than liter or decay. Jeffrey had crossed some invisible line separating the world he had woken up in and this civilized one. The streets were clean and quaint. People sat on porches, lazily passing the afternoon by. Never mind they were scarred and ugly, Jeffrey was grateful for them anyway. There were people; the smells and sights and sounds of people! The feel of human contact! So lost was Jeffrey reveling in his fantasy of newfound civilization that he didn’t see the wooden bat coming until it slammed into his stomach. He was on his knees in a second, the air forced out of him. Looking around he saw people gathering around him, their starved desperate faces barely registered before the second blow struck him from behind on the nape of his neck.  The last thing he saw through tear-blurred eyes was the older woman chastising young Sarah.

“Sarah, what have I told you about playing with your food?”

And then all was black

This time when Jeffrey woke up, he was sure he was dead.  Far from being numb like the first time, his entire body was sore. His eyes opened to the metal ceiling of a trailer in great need of repair. Not dead. He tried sitting up but only managed to grunt at the slightest movement of his torso. Not exactly alive either. He couldn’t move at all.

“There he is! Rise and shine little sucker, I’ve got breakfast for you,” a cheery voice, sing-songed from the other end of the trailer. The smell of fresh bacon and toast wafted over to where he was. He was greatly disappointed when he bowl presented before him contained neither bacon nor toast but an ash colored mush that looked about as edible as the plug on his Stimulus. My Stimulus, he groaned and rolled away from the offending mush to the best of his ability, if I could just get back to my Stimulus, things would be better. “Gods I need my Stimulus,” he mumbled.

“About that,” the voice started again on his side. Jeffrey looked up to a kindly face of a woman old enough to be his mother. “The good doctor will be here soon. You’ll want to talk to him. He’ll explain everything.”

“The doctor?”

There was a faint rap at the door followed by the painful sound of hinges squealing as the door was pushed slowly open.

“I’ll take it from here, Melissa.” The Doctor said approaching Jeffrey’s bedside. “How are you feeling, young man? You may call me Doctor.”

Jeffrey didn’t like this man. He was never fond of old people in general; they reminded him of all things unenjoyable. Why would anyone live that long when they could no longer enjoy the pleasures of the senses? “Jeffrey. Can you tell me what the hell is going on Doctor? What happened to everything? To everyone?”

The doctor chuckled, “Slow down, boy. Let me just start by saying you’ve been in a sleep of sorts for at least the last 150 years. The world is a different place now, son. And for the last 150 years you’ve been under the influence of this,” he pulled a small vial of clear liquid from his pocket, “Don’t recognize it do you?” Jeffrey felt a sudden surge of anger. He wanted answers and he wasn’t getting the ones he wanted, Will no one in this god forsaken place just give me answers? Don’t patronize me old man.

“This,” he gave the vial a little shake, “is the chemical used in the Stimulus Machines, the one that enables you to live out all your sensational fantasies from the comfort of your own home and, as advertised, will preserve your body in the exact state it was when you first plug in.” Jeffrey’s eyes widened, the doctor noticed and smiled, quickly pocketing the vial before Jeffrey realized he had been reaching for it. “What the manufacturers didn’t advertise was what years of being on the chemical stimulants could do to a person’s senses,” he gave Jeffrey a sad smile and Jeffrey wanted to punch him in the face. “Dependency. The body gets habituated to being stimulated even if artificially all the time and from every direction. Everything you could ever want to feel right at your fingertips! Happiness for all!” The Doctor laughed, “Rather, it was happiness for those who would afford it. Sure, the cost of the machine was not so high, lots of people had it and soon it became as common as owning a tablet. And then even better, the manufacturers announced that you could be plugged in for good! Don’t want to stop feeling good? Now you don’t have to.”

Jeffrey got the impression the doctor didn’t have many friends or conversely had lost what friends he had by giving this very same rant he was receiving now.  “What’s wrong with that? Everybody plugged in! If you have the choice between feeling good all the time versus only feeling good sometimes and then feeling crappy most of the time, what idiot wouldn’t choose the former?”

“You’d have to be an idiot not to, wouldn’t you? So everybody plugged in. Everybody. From that kid next door to your high school teachers, professors, business men, activists, and world leaders. Yes, everyone plugged in. And from then on, nobody played, or learned. No one made money or taught. No policies were made and treaties signed. Everything just stopped, but not for everyone. No, there were those on the outside, those who did not own Stimulus Machines who were now left to fend for themselves in a world where most every resource had been sucked up and directed towards feeding these machines by the manufacturer. There was no law, no order and most importantly there came to be no food.”

“Well their fault for not getting a Stimulus Machine then! They had the chance to make their life better, to make their lives happy!”

“Happy, yes.” The doctor tossed back his head and laughed silently. It creeped Jeffrey out. “Are you happy, boy?”

“Not today in particular, but I was! If I could just get back to my Stimulus things would be solve—“

“Oh your Stimulus! Yes! Of course! That’ll solve all your problems! Too bad the manufacturers couldn’t foresee the long term failure of their greatest product. Beginning roughly 83 years after the initial plug in, machines began failing. Nothing lasts forever, nothing can last forever. Not the Stimulus Machines and not the famine that came after. You see, son, what was left of human kind outside of the feely machines needed a new source of food. They were disdainful of those that had submitted to the Stimulus, what they saw as uncontrollably giving in to hedonistic bodily sensation. They were tired of the constant fighting that was going on over what little there was left. It was like they were killing their kin, the people who had ended up in the same unfortunate predicament, the people who felt the same anger and injustice.” The doctor paused and looked meaningfully at Jeffrey. When he started speaking again, it was slow and low. “There just so conveniently happened to be one in abundance practically sitting around like cattle waiting for the slaughter.” The doctor continued to stare at Jeffrey, eyeing him not dissimilarly to the way the man had eyed him earlier, hungrily.

Things clicked.

“The people on the outside decided to be as different as possible from those left on the inside. You see, they wanted the ultimate control over their senses. They wanted not to feel, because feeling was weak and it was the human attachment to sensation that led them to their condition in the first place.”

The scarred people. Sarah’s scars.

“The people on the inside were no different from animals. They could no longer reason or govern themselves. Everything was pure sensation for them.”

Jeffrey looked down at the bite marks Sarah had left on his arm and then back up at the doctor’s emaciated figure. Most of his body was covered in white garb but his hands, Jeffrey saw it now, there were scars all over his hands.

“With the unpredictability of when exactly Stimulus Machines will fail, we on the outside have to be,” he licked his lips, “careful with our food.”

Jeffrey couldn’t move. He glanced at the bowl of neglected ‘food’ by his bedside and wanted to hurl.

“Of course, we have predictions on when the next happy meal will arrive but until then,” The doctor scanned the bruises on Jeffrey’s body, “livestock must be kept tender and well medicated.” Jeffrey’s eyes widened and before he knew it the doctor had the vial of clear liquid inserted into a syringe and plunged into Jeffrey’s neck.

And then he couldn’t feel a thing.

 

image from: http://glasspilgrim.blogspot.com/2010/11/park-hill.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose

The Consistency of Life: I

“To die would be an awfully big adventure”

She was tired; it had been a long day. Comparatively speaking, the day had gone by as many others had, quickly in retrospect and slowly in the present. There was nothing particularly special about this day, in fact most of the details trailed out of her mind as she walked up the stairs, little wisps of moment floating away unbeknownst to her. She was too lost in the mind numbing fatigue the day had left her with, moving slowly as if weighted up the stairs.  Going home of all things shouldn’t be this torturous but  the only thing waiting for her at home is a microwavable meal, some paperwork, and the cheapest Ikea bed she could find.

Sighing she stepped into her dark apartment, absentmindedly flicking the switch and throwing her shoes off. Her apartment was small but well-kept with hardwood floors and clean cream color walls. She hated it; the neutrality of the color scheme only reinforced how utterly bland she felt her life was. Closing her eyes she slumped into a chair, willing the world to change, willing her life to change so that she wouldn’t have to get up at seven to go to work, to have lunch with Kerry at twelve thirty, to take the train back with Brian tomorrow and the day after and the next day and the next…

Surely there was something she was missing, either in herself or in her life. How did everybody else deal with such monotonous routine on a daily basis? What made them so much more unsusceptible to the incredibly overbearing, suffocating consistency of life? Were they immune to this parasitic mundane repetitive existence people called living?

Frustrated she pulled out her planner and chucked it at the wall. Routines, schedules and plans used to be her pillar, the one thing she could count on in the fast paced modern world. She could trust those little boxed dates and time slots, inserting her plans into them to manage her life. But recently it felt the other way around, she was no longer in charge of what went when or who where. It was like she was a robot, blindly following the commands of the all mighty calendar gods and their scheduling minions.

She didn’t at all imagine her life would be like this.

Where was the adventure, the fulfillment and the happy that so permeated all of society’s billboards—the ones that demanded instantaneous satisfaction, otherwise definite loneliness? Where was life and the living of it? Surely this could not be it.

She reached down to pull out her phone and as a true product of the smartphone dependent times, she googled “define: living.” As the page loaded she smirked at the irony. She just googled ‘living’! Either her issues with life were too shallow or she had more problems than she thought. The page loaded and she frowned at the results.

Living—Noun

An income sufficient to live on or the means of earning it.
Living—Adjective

Alive: “living creatures”; “flowers were for the living”.

 

Poor definitions in her opinion. She had money enough to sustain the influx of oxygen and nutrients to her body, and the flow of wastes out but she would hardly call that living. To her, living was a verb and she was looking for instructions on how to do it. Instructions which,  the almighty Google could not provide.

A disdainful expression spread across her face, quickly fading into annoyance as she absentmindedly let her cellphone slip from her fingers and fall to the floor. It landed hard, barely a bounce as if to prove to her just how much worth she let fall to the ground, but she only walked passed it. Forgetting already or perhaps not caring at all to begin with about the tiny electronic gadget, she headed to her balcony. The humid early evening air greeted her warmly; coating her while the slight island breeze welcomed her, coaxing her to the very corner of the metal barrier.

The city skyline was dark against the setting sun. A lone figure stood out apart on its edges, a proud blemish on an otherwise postcard worthy image. The figure perched carelessly, dangerously on the edge of a balcony, hands waving in the wind, playing with the breeze, taunting and teasing it to blow stronger. It was graceful the way she flirted with each passing gust, her whole body a sly smile against the hard corners of the apartment building, a smile that said, ‘If I fall, won’t you catch me?’

As if answering her question, the wind turned violent, rising to the challenge. The lone figure was tense for just a moment before embracing freedom from the ledge. Her limbs splayed wide, displaying complete trust in her fickle companion despite obvious evidence to the contrary. She fell four floors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose, Uncategorized

The People of Late and Onus

For as long as I can remember my family has always had a problem with being on time. I don’t know why or how it started but we are most consistently late. Even if we account for the chronic lateness by arranging to meet earlier, leave earlier, be ready sooner, we somehow always end up late. It’s really goddamn frustrating.

One would perhaps think that with today’s latest communication technology there would be no time wasted. Not only can you immediately communicate your whereabouts and ETA to the required parties but you can also amuse yourself while waiting. Or if you really like (like me) to be productive, you can use said technology to update yourself on the news, read or check your email. Or perhaps conversely that those who did not grow up with said technology as I have would be doubly prompt, seeing as in their pasts such frequent and accurate updates were impossible. None of these considerations apply to my family.

Everything is planned out the night before, while everybody is present after dinner before the lack of energy sets in. What are we going to do tomorrow? What time are we leaving? When will we be back? Where should we be at blank-blank time? Almost as if we’re a team planning a heist like in the movies, our outings have events with time, date and locations. But unlike the movies, we are never successful.

Someone has slept in. Someone took too long of a shower. Someone took too long deciding what to wear. Someone didn’t tell the other they were out of the shower and ‘yes, you can use it now’. Someone on time, notices the lateness of everyone else and begins to watch TV or read or go back online. Everyone gets distracted. It’s thirty minutes past departure. We’re late.

The lateness then turns to frustration and annoyance which eventually leads to arguing and raised voices but if it’s really bad it’ll just be silent. The heavy quiet that settles over occupants of a car, each childishly facing pointedly away from the other, fuming, mulling and wallowing in their stubbornness, simultaneously enhances and suppresses strong emotions. Silence is the worst, the ultimate time and energy waster.

At the crux of it though is most likely guilt. Nobody and everybody here is at fault. Everybody could have done something better and this tidbit of knowledge keeps us in a battle between blaming ourselves and blaming others, trapped in silence. Waiting for someone else to break the silence first because I don’t have the guts or the humility to admit mistakes, I sit and the guilt eats at me, commanding me to be better than this, to be above this while the pride sews shut my lips and keeps my eyes glaring at nothing in particular. And as I wait, time continues to pass….

I hate waiting. I hate waiting, especially on people, because it means I’m most likely being unproductive. Mostly I hate waiting on myself. Why can’t the period of time between emotional highs and calmer, more sober and reasonable lows pass as quickly as it took for me to reach the aforementioned high? If I can jump to unpleasant conclusions so fast, doesn’t it logically follow that falling from them should be even faster?

But it’s not falling, anything but. More like struggling to walking down a curved staircase in ridiculous high heels and a tight dress while trying not to look at your feet and pretty all at once–think any cheesy chick flick with that stair case scene and the guy looks up and says something like “you’re beautiful”—except slower and without any of the pleasant anticipation during or compliment at the end. In the ideal world where this crazy analogy makes sense, to the man waiting at the bottom, the dress, the make-up, the heels were not unappreciated but essentially unnecessary for the compliment. Meaning, it was a little bit of a waste. Coming down that figurative emotional staircase, caught tight in an emotionally high strung dress, made up with pride tinted make up, walking shakily on guilty heels, is me wasting time. I hate wasting time.

Hi! So this is creative non-fiction, a genre I used to have a lot of trouble with but have now discovered that I write a lot of it, embellishing and taking liberties with the events of my life, what can I say? I’m a little bit of a drama queen at times. Pretty sure it runs in the family, that and lateness. Thus leading to the above-written-about situation. Hope you enjoyed!

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose, Uncategorized

TBD

This is a little creative something I’ve sort of been working on. I wrote it almost a month ago and revisited it today and added/edited some. This process spurred some ideas that may or may not result in a longer type story. But really this could go anywhere. Comments and feedback are welcome and enjoyed! –M

Sometimes I have this terrible urge to cry. And I mean, really cry. I want to rock myself back and forth in fetal position, sobbing my eyes dry, screaming bloody murder at nothing in particular. Cry cry cry until I have nothing left in me and I’m left on the concrete floor of a dark room, gasping, no, heaving air in and out of my lungs. Cry and cry and cry until I can no longer see straight, until my face is so caked in dried tears that it’s become frozen hard and solid in an awful grimace, an awful contortion of all the words I ever wished to say but didn’t, all the feelings I wanted to express but didn’t.

And sometimes it becomes more than an urge but an aching desire as if crying that hard would bring me some sort of cathartic release and would magically make me happy. Like I could cry my problems away, and cry myself into happiness.

Then it’s over. Just as it came the moment goes without stimulus or any sort of grounding connection to anything at all, transporting me from one vast, dark reverie into another. This one is a colored world of people and wonder and things where every touch is like the smoothest, warmest rock but has the consistency of a feather, almost just barely there, teasing.

It makes me giggle.

Sometimes I have an awful need for the giggles, a need that goes often unfulfilled. Then I want to snicker and chortle and guffaw until my sides hurt and my mouth is dry and my vocal chords can no longer produce any sound. Giggle and laugh until I’m in pain. Until I’m enjoying mysef.

And then I want to cry again.

1 Comment

Filed under Prose, Uncategorized

How to write the “All American” Book

This is something I discovered while doing a little clean up on my computer. I wrote it sophomore year of high school, over four years ago. Some things have been edited simply because 16 year old me was trying too hard, but the majority of it is intact changed just a smidgen to account for cultural shifts that have occurred in the past four years. Enjoy!

Welcome aspiring American author!

To start off, make your font fairly large and range your book between 178-431 pages. Do not surpass 500 pages. Having your book be half a thousand pages puts off the average American reader.

On the cover, do not put famous people. If it’s literature: log cabins on rolling green hills plotted with crops. If it’s Sci-Fi: space ships, or ‘other world’ civilizations floating in the sky. If thriller:: don’t bother with a cover page, choose a color for your book, put your name on in large Arial bold font that covers half the cover page, with your book title and any subtitles in courier new font. Then go over the title a few times in the same font, each time shifting the words a little to the left, then an little down, a little sideways; it’ll create the “oh-my-god-I’m-an-axe-murderer-and-I-just-wrote-out-a-freaky-note-for-you” effect. If romance: Gucci, Prada, Vuiton bags, heels or sunglasses, classy martini glasses, romance city skylines, or a silhouette of a couple kissing in the rain, behind the football stadium, or under the bleachers.

As for the title, avoid short two to three word titles. They say nothing about your book to the guy browsing the shelves. Use phrases or questions. They hold a browsing reader’s attention longer, therefore giving them a chance to give them a look at your cover and perhaps if you’re lucky they’ll even flip to the back to read your summary.

Your main character should be an average Joe. A Jane or John Doe with attractive eyes, a defined jaw (if male) and a button nose (if female). If this character is to meet a love interest later, he/she will be “strikingly attractive.” Always use the word “striking” in any of its adverb, adjective, or verb form when the love interest is introduced. They meet either at star bucks or in a bar and he/she will always more attractive than the main character but will fall in love with the main for his/her personality.

Neither of these characters are not pure American. Other characters may be ethnically mixed, but none should be fully from another ethnicity. Halves are acceptable as supporting/minor characters.

In your book, nothing should ever happen in a small town. Unless it’s a thriller novel and therefore everything happens in a small town. Otherwise all the action is in a city, if it isn’t your main character must be transferred there or has worked all his/her life to get there. But leave out how his/her success story of earning the money or working for the transfer. Bottom line, the majority of your story should take place in a large city. (ie: New York, Chicago, Boston etc.)

While in the city, there are no obese people, except the underground boss. Your main character also happens to live in a pent house that has a beautiful view of the city skyline and was able to afford it before he/she got their first pay.

And in the city, everybody must be rude, hobos must roam the streets or live on every corner, and rent is not an issue. Key places to have in your novel are: a bar or club which character frequent, and Starbucks.

Have a mentor/friend figure there (in the city) either a relative, or a potential close friend that shows your main character the “works” around the city and just so happens to work at the same place.

That character must be cut out of the story later through a transfer, scandal, or death. The absence of the friend/mentor character creates a turning point in your novel.

Make references to the supernatural (namely sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves), superheros and pop icons.

Adultery in some way or form should make an appearance.

Allude to corruption in the government and economics, and make an obvious comment about the poor government administration during the early 2000’s and how empowered everyone’s become since a person of color was elected.

End your book with a chapter focusing solely on the character’s philosophy, feelings and reflections. Include something conclusive and deep about life and the brevity of it.

Note: for your author picture, take a black and white picture of yourself with a tree in the background.

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose