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Katmandu

26 Apr

The world falls out from under you.

They said you were prepared for this. The drills, the talks, even the seismological understanding. But apparently your buildings were put through no such rigor, born at a different time.

You are buried now.

You know help will come. It’s come before, to find people under the rubble of the lives they thought they’d prepared for. It’s all a matter of how angry you can be – will your heat show up on their scanners? Too much cold, uncaring detritus around is the real threat. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This is what they prepared you for.

You know that elsewhere, feet still walk on firm foundations, the blessings that come with their more monotone landscapes. Fewer ups and downs, no sharp shadows at twilight to make you wonder about the curves and edges of the world around you. Safety.

You know you will be on their commercials. What – a week at most, this time?

Send help.

Send money.

Send you.

No – not that last one. It’s too dangerous for that last one. You risk other people’s lives and business meetings.

You understand.

They will try to sacrifice. Ten dollars, ten cents. Any little thing helps, but you will not be dug out of here with the shovel of other people’s well-meant quarters. Lives are bought in time and effort. It’s a pity now much you have to pay for that, nowadays.

But still, you understand. You understand why they can’t send more. They need that money. For their bread. For their gas. For their kid’s new start-of-school pencil box. These are what they build their foundations out of, and who are you to deny someone else what they need to ensure their world rocks a little bit less when they hear of disaster and misfortune?

A teacher calls about a scraped knee.

A lover calls to break a heart.

A boss calls to kill a career.

The news chatters in the background about an earthquake in Katmandu.

They will gather their children with their sturdy new pencil boxes close to them and clutch at the steadiest thing they have, eyes watering over with gratitude at this small foundation, while they wonder – what if that were me?

You wonder what it would be like to be clutching that pencil box right now.

Beside you, your hands try to curl into claws but they can’t because the debris of ages ago’s poor planning and yesterday’s shit luck prevents you from moving. The world crashed into itself, a byproduct of trying to stand up straight on too unstable a spine. It’s the way it’s always been. It will be again, somewhere.

It’s just you, this time.

You imagine that out there, the world is still shaking for you. Fear, anger, desperation at the rubble that provides too much metaphor for how humanity has built itself. They will fight for you, out of their own emotions.

You smile, a quiver of hope small enough to force its way past the crushing deoxygenation.

Maybe it will be enough, those other people’s movements.

But for now, you are still.

Flash Fiction: The Kindle Crime Syndicate

3 Jul

I expressed envy at my friend’s recent acquisition of a Kindle Paperwhite. While I also am incredibly lucky enough to have a Kindle, it’s an older version with what’s basically a tablet screen, a.k.a. computer screen. So uh, ew. I mentioned that if I really want a Paperwhite, I should probably just social engineer a swap or work some kind of reduced payment scheme out. My friend, however, had other ideas…

“That,” he suggested, acknowledging my swap idea, “or become a master thief, steal one and relish in the joy that you were able to get one of your own. It never stops there though, does it?

You think, What harm will it do if I take this book? Suddenly, you find yourself stealing every once in a while – a book here, a top there, a cute pair of earrings; who will miss them, right?

Eventually it’s an unending thirst, a constant struggle to do moral good versus the unadulterated bliss you feel when you take something and make it your own. Your dark descent leads you to convince others to help you in your crimes. Your band of thieves grows and grows, until it’s no longer a band, it’s not even a network; it’s a criminal syndicate.

Your name, only known as ‘The Mice’Ala,’ is known to all in the underworld. Who is this figure? How can she manage to plunder everything within her grasp at a whim? Your thirst for lust and power grows unbounded – murder, human smuggling, these are all small and trivial steps you use to achieve your ultimate goal: complete and total domination over the human race.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’ll get a Kindle Paperwhite eventually, no worries.”

Well then.

Flash Fiction: The Wind is a Liar

25 May

The wind is a liar, an elusive suitor who will murmur sweet nothings as he passes by but remains safely intangible for you to ever manage to grasp. He may have you all he wants, but you can never have him. Not really.

All you’ll ever have are the murmurs. A small gust of discontent blowing in the back of your consciousness, left there by some too-strong beat of your heart or flutter of your mind. You let him in. That was the only way to trap him. To catch that one breath, leave it blowing about somewhere in your memory.

It’s the only way to hold onto him.

The sweet caress of a moment’s breeze will say that he loves you. But the wind can never really hold you. The suggestion of an embrace is nothing but a cruel trickery of the senses.

Because should you ever turn to embrace your lover back, you will find there were never any arms about you in the first place.

You will swear they were there.

But that was never true, dear one.

Perhaps you will be one of the few that insist.

And then, oh pretty lover, the wind will have made a liar out of you, too.

One Thing, Ten Ways

28 Feb

Alrighty, folks. I follow this famous writerly person called Chuck Wending, which means that I get about half a billion blog posts from him filling up my inbox every day. It’s pretty good, actually. Wending has added half a dozen books to my oh-god-please-just-read-me-already list, and his, uh, spritely writing style constantly challenges me to make sure mine is adequately colorful.

Anyhoo, every week Wending hosts a challenge of his own – usually in the form of a flash fiction topic, but this week, as an assignment to take one thing and describe it ten ways. Abstract ways, concrete ways, literal and figurative ways. All that jazz.

So. I figured I’d describe something that I know pretty damn (read: way too fucking) well: depression.

I know, sounds like a depressing topic, right? Depression sounds like it’d be pretty depressing. I mean, I think that’s why they call it that. But… well, depression has been with me for a long while, and it’s a beast I well know the shape of. It’s a terrible beast – but I’ve learned from the best of books (the ones like Harry Potter and the Young Wizard Series) that if you can describe something, you have power over it. Why do you think the best of magic is always done with words?

And so if I must keep this bedraggled familiar in check, at least I can do it eloquently.

So. Here goes. Depression is…

  1. Hopelessness, helplessness, soulessness, joylessness – all those “lessnesses” that come in the form of deceptively paltry checkboxed lines on a psychiatrist’s diagnostic sheet.
  2. A searing pain felt in hot tears down cheeks and a throbbing throat and a chest that’s constricted and convulsed with crying.
  3. Nothing. Nothing at all. Numbness, listlessness, a-motivation. An inexorable annihilation of being that turns a person into glass eyes and an empty shell.
  4. The point of last resort – self-harm, eating disorders, suicide, all those co-morbidities of depression arise not as a wall of rock bottom but as a desperate attempt to tunnel back out. Sometimes you shut the door behind you.
  5. A paradoxical battle in which there are no sides. It’s not an I against the world, an I against a villain, an I against a situation. It is an I against an I. Not even two clear-cut sides tearing a someone down the middle; a confused and blurred raging that smashes everything together and leaves nothing whole.
  6. A murderer, plain and simple.
  7. Not a fault, not a choice, not a mistake of the patient. Ever.
  8. Incredibly mis- and mal-understood.
  9. A broken brain; a disconnection between know and feel; a mis-firing, bad wiring; a nontraditional way of processing neurochemicals and pharmaceuticals aimed to fix them; a bastard to consistently properly medicate.
  10. A demon that yet an angel can make, in more ways than one, and likely more ways than ten. But that, I suppose, is for another description.

 

How you know you really need it to be the weekend.

21 Feb

When your alarm – which interestingly enough is NOT the usual default tone you lazily leave it on, but rather some other strange, unfamiliar song that starts with the energy of a full-on fanfare – goes off right next to your head, you immediately snap upright cursing with a vague idea – whereby “idea” I mean “intention” – about smashing the Noise Producing Machine with your hand. Or with potential energy and the floor. (Don’t worry, you then remember that’s probably not a good idea and do not in fact throw the offending mockery of your alarm to your dorm room floor. Cellular technology is safe. For now.)

Then, when you visit the campus coffee shop on your way to work, after Jeff the enigmatically burly coffee shop worker has completed your sacrifice of tuition money to the coffee gods and handed you your student ID back, you simultaneously greet and bid goodbye to Jeff with an astoundingly chipper, “Happy Friday!” But, after Jeff has chuckled and returned the well-wishes, you suddenly garble in an unintentionally guttural voice, “We’re almost there!” And then, mortified, you quickly avert your eyes and duck out of the coffee shop.

Why yes, I would like a dash of sinister with my coffee this morning, thank you…

Yeah. I think that’s how you know you really need it to be the weekend.

A Slightly Crazed Lump of Blog Anthropomorphizing

30 Dec

Also called, “What do blogs do when they’re alone?”

I wonder what a blog does when nobody’s viewing it. Does it get lonely? Does it run amok and mix up all its characters and throw letters across posts and then jump back into place as soon as somebody clicks on one of its links? Do its posts talk to each other? That would be weird for the blog, wouldn’t it? Bit like schizophrenia… Well, maybe not, if there aren’t any guest posts. If it’s all the same writer, all the same voice, then I suppose that’s more of a busy brain than a disordered one. Those poor blogs with guest authors though… can you imagine it? Suddenly their page views dribble down to zero, and they expect a nice, quiet moment full of single-minded introspection, and then HOLY FUCK WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT VOICE COME FROM??? And some guest author just keeps babbling on, while the poor home blog starts having a break down – Why don’t you sound like me? How are you talking to me? You say you’re a different person? But you’re here, in my blog! How can you not be me? And then some other guest author tries to step in and explain and HOLY FUCK THERE’S ANOTHER VOICE INSIDE ME OH SWEET JESUS I’M GOING CRAZY!

… Or maybe blogs are better at sorting that kind of thing out than I’m giving them credit for. Maybe it’s more like a love affair or something. You know, some guest author’s post making eyes at the top bits and bottom bits of the home author’s posts around it. Lots of winking going on and whatnot. Or maybe the blog has an orgy! All those authors milling around, linking to each other, getting hot and steamy about their topics all on one blog…

Eh. Perhaps I’ll just leave unviewed blogs to their privacy.

In any case, keep clicking! Who knows what you might come across, if you happen to be the lucky one who stumbles upon a quiet moment and catches my blog unaware 😉

I believe this is suitably creepy for this blog post...

I believe this is suitably creepy for this blog post…

** This story maaaay have been inspired in part by a section from the children’s book A Little Princess **

Waiting

2 Nov

Image

He threw his hands in the air and looked at her with angry bewilderment. “Well what was I supposed to do?” he shouted. “Change what happened? Fix everything? You know I can’t do that!”

But she only closed her eyes and gave one small, sad shake of her head. “That night, I just wanted you to come and find me,” she whispered. “You didn’t.”