Monday, December 08, 2014

You can't break up with Sam at brunch, because you're so happy to be alive.

(I saw this and then I wrote this and then I read it aloud and I had such a good time with that that I uploaded it. So, your choice: listen to me read it, or read it yourself.)

You can't break up with Sam at brunch, because you're so happy to be alive. You just sit there, hands folded around your cup of coffee, watching him as he talks. He's talking about a television show, maybe, or an annoying coworker, probably. The sunlight coming in through the wide panes of the cafe's glass front illuminates his face, your hands, the half-eaten plates of waffle and egg. Watching him – lips cracked, ears slightly protruding – you feel the same warm, joyous feeling of openness and possibility that you did at the very beginning of your relationship. Everything feels clear, just as it did then:
     your flickery feelings of affection for this person,
     the feeling that something is about to change,
     the absolute certainty of knowing not only what you want, but that you are on the very brink of getting it.
  You open your mouth to speak whatever must be spoken (I want to end this – I feel that this has come to an end – has run its course – is no longer moving forward), but each time you only smile, or laugh, or reach out to touch Sam's face, because you are so happy, by god it's beautiful, he's beautiful, every person and thing in this bright and shining world is beautiful. In return, Sam begins to smile, Sam begins to laugh, and with every second that passes, his happiness seems to increase, buoyed by your own. You were always good at this: raising him up, out of the cloud of his own mind. And, as his eyes brighten, you start to wonder how you could ever dare to dim them, and the certainty in your chest begins to twist itself into a muddled knot, and the feeling of limitlessness dies away, and by the time he reaches out to kiss your fingertips, emanating happiness from every inch of his being, and says, gaze direct, I love you, you begin to feel the confines of your life settle back around you. Your face smiles back, and your mouth says (because it is true), I love you, too, and something inside of you disappears, buries itself, and you tell yourself, well, if it nags at me now and again, so what? You resolve to forget it, forget all about it.
  For the first time in my life, Sam is saying now. For the first time, everything makes sense. Because of you. You listen, knowing you could never undo that, how selfish an act it would be, to knowingly destroy a person's happiness.
  I'm glad, you tell him, already struggling to remember how that even feels.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"We Were the Last" (part i)

Cathleen peered over the counter at the woman thumbing through a beauty magazine. She peered at the woman's fingernails: glitter-green shellac, long. She peered at the woman's face: puffy lips, puffy cheeks, painted eyebrows thick-brown and arched. She peered at the woman's clothes: a tight, loud-patterned dress snuggled over rounded tummy, thick arms. Cathleen cleared her throat once.

Down two aisles and to the left, Cathleen's sister Carrie peered at the rows of toy, wooden furniture. Carrie was small and impatient and hyper-intelligent. She pulled out her smartphone and sent a text.

To: Cathleen
have u asked yet?

Cathleen received the text at the exact moment that the woman behind the counter looked up.

Ping, said her phone.

"Can I help you?" said the woman.

"Um," said Cathleen. She peered down at her phone. She peered back up at the woman, who seemed taller suddenly.

"Do you have. . . ." she paused. She could imagine Carrie two aisles over, all ears, straining in anticipation of the woman's reply.

"Do you have. . . ."

"What I don't have is all day, kid," said the woman.

"My mom said. . . ." No, that was wrong. "I mean. I meant to - I wanted to ask about the - if you have - "

Ping, said Cathleen's phone. It was Carrie, again. It said, how about now?

"I needed to see about the transferents?" Cathleen said, hurried breath rushing out. The woman blinked at her. Maybe she doesn't know? Cathleen thought. Maybe we came to the wrong place?

"Whoa," said the woman. It was her turn to peer, down at the little girl on the other side of her counter. The girl's eyes were normal-sized, and her hair was light brown, and she wore plain enough clothes. But she'd just asked about transferents.

Just then, Carrie appeared and walked to the counter to join her sister. Whoa, thought the woman again. Another one. And they looked exactly alike, too.

"Excuse me," said Carrie. Carrie looked over at her sister, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long. She turned back to the woman. "We're here about the transferents. Emily and Timothy? They were sent on Monday."

The woman gaped.

"Who sent you?" she asked the pair standing in front of her. In response, Carrie reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. She tapped the screen for a moment and then held it up to the woman. On the screen was a series of letters followed by a code, symbol, and digital voice activator.

"Oh," said the woman.

In response, the phone lit up, and began to dial a number. The woman's face fell.

"No - " she began to say.

Carrie shrugged, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long.

Monday, November 10, 2014

a pair of speakers, and i buy myself my own groceries and bring them to my own home, and listen to "towers" on repeat, and talk with my roommate and talk to her sweet dog too.

the woman looked me in the eye, and leaned in, and lowered her voice. "i wish you - what i wish you. is. peace, and harmony." she really looked at me. she so sincerely thanked me. called me by my name. "i really mean it," she said, hoping i'd know, and i knew, even without her saying that.

shooting the shit in the break room, out on the floors. "why does everybody give you such a hard time?" the one asked, and i just laughed, and laughed.