Mayo on your popcorn (Prompt 05, Written by Celine)
Y: I have decided, Z. I am going to be your friend.
Y: And not just any friend. Your best friend.
Z: Do I get a say in this matter?
Y: Of course you do. But do note that I won’t even listen.
Z: Why would you ever want to be my best friend?
Y: Because you are so weird. You punch holes in your umbrella, you put mayo on your popcorn, you sleep in a bed made out of balloons filled with saltwater, and you take power naps at six p.m., which is like the most awkward time to take naps! You live outside the overbearing and human realm of common sense. I don’t understand you. You are the great unknown. I think you are the least “human” person I know.
Z: You want to get to know me because I am not human?
Y: Well, I guess you are human, in the strictest of terms. You are not a monster, that’s for sure, because I saw you stop your car for that small fox a few kilometers back. You probably are human, because you look like one – but to be perfectly honest, I can’t really tell what you are. Sometimes I think you are an extraterrestrial that belongs outside of this solar system. I am holding my breath, just waiting for you to tear your skin off and reveal that you are an awesome-looking alien from some cool-sounding planet eons away. And I want to be there when it happens, if it ever does happen.
Z: I assure you, it won’t happen.
Y: Well, I want to find out for myself. That is why I want to be your best friend.
Z: … Fine. Just don’t step on my baby sea turtles on the way in. They’re trying to find their way to the sea.
10:31 pm |
July 27 2009
| 1 note
Fan Fiction (Prompt 05, Written by Vlada)
He opened his eyes and morning sunshine spilled into the room, onto his blanket, over his head, and around his bed. He glanced at the calendar for confirmation and yes, it was true. All the big red X’s led like ants to today, which was just before tomorrow, the queen ant of all days. Tomorrow was circled in that same bold red marker, but that wasn’t emphasis enough. So Ash Ketchum’s body performed the emphasis: the smile on his lips gravitated down so that his elbows grinned, his bellybutton beamed, and his kneecaps smirked. Tomorrow, tomorrow! Tomorrow Ash Ketchum would awake to the chiming of all the bells, the explosion of all the fireworks, the drumbeat of every marching band! Tomorrow would be the beginning.
All the Pokémon in Ash’s room were plush, plastic, or paper. Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle were pictured in attack poses on a poster, an opened Pokéball revealed a clock, and stuffed Pidgeys hung from the ceiling, as if in flight. But tomorrow Ash Ketchum would have a real Pokémon. He would pack up his toothbrush and underwear. He would kiss his mother goodbye and leave Pallet Town. Because Ash Ketchum had a dream—a big grandiose dream—of one day becoming the greatest Pokémon Master in the world. And to achieve your dreams you have to take risks, you have to leave without planning to return, and you have to allow yourself to become vulnerable. Some people can’t ever do those things. But Ash would tomorrow, at the age of ten. Tomorrow each beak of Pallet Town’s Dodrio would yelp in unison at dawn to mark the start of the Most Important Day (thus far!) of Ash Ketchum’s Life.
8:22 pm |
July 27 2009
| 5 notes
I Love the Unknown by Eef Barzelay
6:59 pm |
July 23 2009
A Short List (Prompt 04, Written by Vlada)
Ways in which I am like my mother:
- why are you wearing your summer clothes in the winter? you’re going to get cold
- you can’t just rinse a dish
- if you ever want to feel better, you have to drink that entire cup of tea. all of it.
- also, I don’t care if you don’t want tea
- what kind of a friend doesn’t ask if you want anything on their way downstairs?
- people should share everything
- sense of humour
- sweet tooth
- good judge of character
Ways in which I am unlike my mother:
- don’t believe in superstitions
- or the healing power of oregano oil
- or predictions a psychic makes with beans
- don’t vote conservative
- try my damndest to avoid perpetuating sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.
- not at all jaded, but naive
- believe people are good until proven wrong
- listen to music performed by musicians under the age of 40
- enjoy watching foreign films with subtitles
- walk around the house barefoot
- don’t know what it means to sacrifice
- enjoy being downtown
2:17 pm |
July 23 2009
| 1 note
Epicurus on crack (Prompt 04, Written by Celine)
Mom is hugging her legs on top of the couch she bought, not out of philistine desire to live luxuriously, but because she liked it. My house is beautiful because she buys everything that way. She buys them (with the money she earned herself) to please herself (and me and my sister, of course) and no one else. It’s why it makes people with bigger and better houses green with envy. The house is a real home, because she fills it with the things she loves, simply and without ulterior motives.
One thing is for certain about my mom and I: I have known her all my life, and she has known me from the beginning to now. That’s meaningful, because that means everything she is thinking about and laughing about and talking about and doing is mine, in a way. It also means that everything I am thinking about and laughing about and talking about and doing is hers. We are one and the same. We are best friends. She takes a large chunk of whatever loneliness people are inherently born with out of my share and throws it out with leftover noodles.
“You should relax,” She says, lying there like a perfect sack of garbage. She frets and fusses over small things like my health and boys, as mothers ought to, but she also just doesn’t really give a crap because she trusts me. She is small and becomes upset easily and is hilariously girly (think pink and frills and babies) and is gullible. She is scatter-brained. She is probably the most cowardly person I have ever known (but she is also the bravest; more on that later). She is an escapist through and through, who eagerly flees whenever she can to spider solitaire, bad ancient Chinese kung fu movies, kung fu books, and manga.
And she is a hedonist. That is probably the most important thing about her, the one thing that matters. She doesn’t care about the “great meaning” or any of that bullshit, because she is too busy eating, laughing, talking. That’s another big thing about her. She is an eater, a laugher, a talker.
“You can’t plan your life out because it will never go as you plan it, and if it does go as you planned it, there is usually something seriously wrong. You need more confidence. You shouldn’t be so greedy. You need to realize that you are perfect, even the ugliest and the dirtiest parts, and tell people to fuck off if they dare to disagree. Tell yourself to fuck off if you dare to disagree. You need to be more fascist. You need to grow up. You need to laugh more. You need to be more content, more satisfied.”
And that ability to be satisfied (which I agree that I need more of) is what liberates and makes her so brave in spite of everything. It is her greatest flaw (the driven and particularly successful people are dissatisfied all the time, which is why they are driven and consequently successful) and the one thing that redeems her and makes her truly extraordinary, even when she is just sitting around like a lazy sack of garbage (the driven and successful people don’t usually like my mom, because she has less digits in her bank account but still manages to live way more happily than them). She loves the place she stands – or is stretched on – and that’s an impressive feat. I think it is comparable to conquering Mount Everest and the North Pole.
Of course, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t move (in fact, she is in constant flux). It just means that wherever she moves to, she will find happiness there too. Throw her in a foxhole – she will at first cry hysterically and panic, but once she gets over that she will figure it out and find the generosity of spirit to laugh about it. She is invincible that way in spite of all her frivolousness and lightheartedness, and it really makes me want to be like her.
Admittedly, it’s hard sometimes to take her seriously as a role model. Often she tries to convince me to stop studying (for a really important test!) and planning out my life (if I don’t plan it, who will? The same mom who thinks I should forget schoolwork for an impulsive shopping spree?), and instead go shopping for (useless) antiques with her (and I usually agree to, in the end, because she makes a sad dejected puppy face). She is a terrible mother on every traditional standard. But nothing about her is traditional, so that’s out the window anyway.
“You need to be happier,” she asserts.
Watching her pull at her split ends, I agree with her. I believe that authentic happiness is possible, and this unwavering faith in the possibility of a truly good life is the best thing she has inherited to me. Everything I love about myself is what I learned from her shockingly bold and shameless hedonism. She is Epicurus on crack, and I want to be one too.
I smile at her fondly, thinking about happiness and my good luck in being born of a weird mom like her. But instead of smiling back at me fondly too (as traditionally good mothers and role models would) she slides off the couch and furtively makes her way towards the back door that opens up to the backyard.
“Where are you going?”
She turns to me, looking guilty, and confesses with the most awkward and hilarious expression on her face.
“To have a cigarette.”
I follow her out to sit on the porch with her and slowly die of second hand smoke.
2:00 am |
July 23 2009
| 1 note
Chekhov’s Gun (Prompt 03, Written by Vlada)
Chekhov said a pistol hanging on the wall in the first act must be fired by the third. So it went.
The first act was the grand introduction. The woman sewed her own dresses, engineering degree, mysteriously jaded, and probably not-taking-shit-from-anyone. The man was one of those funny guys with a get-rich-quick sensibility, if that could ever be considered sensible. They met and were married two weeks later. No wedding, just a town hall affair. We find out later that the woman regrets never owning a wedding dress. Two weeks! Was it love at first sight? Probably not. We don’t learn the motivations and we can’t see inside their brains. Scientists have yet to invent an X-ray machine that powerful. They may not love one another passionately, but they love one another more than they love anyone else.
The second act was birth, of course. Two weeks late and slippery, she emerged. The man stood outside the hospital, pressed up against one of the windows in an attempt to see her. He wasn’t allowed in the room. What followed was animal crackers, trips to the planetarium, papier-mâché, sneakers with velcro straps, stamp and sticker and snail collections, “Brown-Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison on a cassette tape, cold syrup that did not taste like grape, diaries, laying on your belly to cure stomach aches, small gifts hidden inside stuffed animals, series of books with repetitive introductory chapters, dinosaur placemats, and secret superhero clubs. A collection of small, glittering moments that on their own meant little but viewed from way up in space actually formed a pattern, a script, a connect-the-dots of a human life. One could accurately predict the events of the remainder of her life from all of those seemingly insignificant things mentioned. That’s destiny. But the play doesn’t give you time to guess, because you are too busy watching the events of the remainder of her life on stage. She is growing. Up.
And in the third act, tragedy strikes. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is how everything changes. Because everything changes. Your gums feel different when you brush your teeth. You eat breakfast for dinner and you don’t have lunch. Tea gets cold. Taking out the garbage suddenly becomes symbolic. You cry for a reason, your reason, your raison d’être— and then you cry just to cry. Because there is nothing else to do. Because you must busy yourself.
In this play, the pistol goes off every few acts, until infinity.
11:40 pm |
July 20 2009
Psychotic breakdowns are contagious (Prompt 03, Written by Celine)
“I want you to know what this is about.”
I admitted that I would actually love to know.
“This is about my all-harrowing desire to be dead.”
I didn’t understand what he meant and I told him so.
“When I point my gun at you, you who is my friend, my brother, my sister, my mother, my father, my enemy, my lover —- when I turn against you, I turn against myself. You are my reflection on the shiny surface. Your body is my body. Every movement of your fork, your fountain pen, your lungs — they are mine, all mine. You are alive in the same way I am. We share life and are alive together. And so you are me.”
I told him that that made no sense and that if he wanted to kill himself, he should just kill himself and not involve a complete stranger like me. I made clear that I was a stranger to him, that I am a totally separate entity he has nothing to do with and that I didn’t contribute to whatever reason he had for contemplating suicide.
But even as I was reasoning with him, I kept thinking that my suggestions were absurd and ridiculous. In my head I knew I was the more sensible of the two people in the room, but I couldn’t help but utter under my breath I’m crazy.
Then I thought of how if he killed himself, it would be the death of me too, in a way. I imagined that a bullet in him is a bullet in me. I mumbled to myself we are all dead anyway and believed it like a messed-up lunatic, either because of the pumping adrenaline at gunpoint or the unscientific fact that psychotic breakdowns are contagious.
So I turned to look at him. And unsurprisingly, I saw myself there, waving at me. He –- or I –- smiled. A smile so small unless you close your eyes you miss it.
The crazy person eventually pulled the trigger. Does it matter when? The metal bullet cracked my spine open.
“And now I’m dead.”
He whispered dauntingly, as if those four words were a special secret, a real and non-cop-out answer to all life’s great questions like “why are we here”, “does god exist”, or “am I doomed to become a cat lady and die by myself”. Of course, it wasn’t a morsel of truth, blindingly beautiful, which he pretended it to be. It was just a joke. It was a joke because we are all dead anyway.
He fell backwards, his dead eyes towards the ceiling –- and I stood there, watching him fall, bleeding and alive and dead all at once. I watched as his life packed up and left, and I felt sorry for the crazy dead man. My chest and spine cried for him in red and I cried for him too.
9:08 pm |
July 19 2009
| 1 note
The Fullest (Prompt 02, Written by Vlada)
“You’re insatiable,” she concluded. She reached behind her head with both hands to gather her long brown hair and moved the mass onto her left shoulder. I waited for her to continue. Her fingers raked through her tips, occasionally getting lost in knots.
Impatiently I prompted, “And?”
“And nothing.” She glanced up at me mid-rake and then looked back down at her tresses.
The two of us sat in her living room. My pink limbs grateful for air conditioning, I lay splayed out on her red thrifted couch. My shirt felt stuck to my back and my boxers seemed sweaty. The room smelled of cigarette smoke and overcompensatory incense. Books littered the coffee table and spilled out onto the floor and small pieces of an apple’s peel sat on a plate near my feet. She had cut the apple into wedges and nibbled right up to the skin. One wall was adorned with that Indian tapestry that always made me feel claustrophobic. I had pedaled in the August afternoon sun to get her advice.
I silently considered her statement. Was it insatiable of me to feel dissatisfied with E? E, who was nice enough and pretty enough and smart enough? E, who tried to contact me with just the right amount of zeal? Who called my cell phone and in the event of a voicemail greeting left no message? Who just left it at that? E, who kissed with just the right amount of tongue, the right amount of lip, the right amount of teeth? And before her, was I insatiable to reject S? S, with her hand slowly guiding mine to her left breast? S, who literally sang my praises one night? Who felt invested enough in my bad day to do that? There were others, in my mind all dead fish flopping onto their sides one by one to reveal to me the wonderful attributes I had kicked to the curb, hidden in their fleshy insides.
“So you think I should have stayed with E,” I said.
“You need to figure out what it is that you want.” She let go of her hair, seemingly in defeat, and dropped onto her stomach, inching towards me until she could rest her head on my lap. I could see the faint stretch-marks on her inner thighs right above the hem of her shorts. I tried to stroke her hair but my fingers got stuck. “I’ve figured it out, why can’t you?” she mumbled after a while, her cheek pressed against my thigh. She uttered her syllables right onto my body, creating tiny vibrations through my bones.
“You figured it out?”
“Yeah. I found T, didn’t I?”
She sat up. “You sound incredulous!”
“Ooh, ‘incredulous!’” I mocked. I scanned the floor for her Webster’s. It was near the dead potted plant that had hung itself with its own vines. She kept it in the living room as a reminder of Mortality. “Would you get rid of that stupid dead plant already?” She lay back down, facing away from me.
“What’s wrong with T?” Her tone had changed. She reached for a pack of cigarettes on the coffee table and began to open and close the box. “He’s smart, and funny.” We were quiet for a little while and here I imagine she was considering how smart and funny T was. I was doing the opposite.
“I’ve never heard him make a single joke.”
“You don’t even know him!” she said. “You’ve met him once!”
“He doesn’t care about you,” I said without thinking.
“How do you know?” I didn’t know. But as soon as I had said those words, I knew they were true. She tapped the bottom of the cigarette pack against her palm. “Whatever, this isn’t about me. You’re the one who needs psychological help.”
“So what is it that you want?” She pulled a cigarette out of the pack and shifted in my lap to lie on her back. Looking up at me, she placed the cigarette in between her lips. “What do you want?” The unlit cigarette slurred her words and made them sound like they were underwater. I watched the cancer stick shake in slow motion with each word.
We were looking at one another, through one another: she at my little second chin and that one part I always miss shaving, I at the scar near her nose and the stubborn pimple on her left cheek. How many times had we assumed the same position in her living room? We were always careful to avoid pauses, but I took my time now.
“I want to scold someone for smoking,” I started, “and light each one of their cigarettes.” I kept my gaze.
She removed the dangling cigarette from in between her lips. “That’s what you want?” she quietly asked.
“Uh huh.” I redirected my focus to her mouth. I leaned in close until the space between our lips felt like the Bering Strait.
“Okay,” she whispered onto me. She lifted her head, meeting my mouth, and we started shifting on the couch. I moved myself from under her, stepping on the plate of apple peels in the process, and pawed at my left foot as she kissed my lips, my cheek, and that one part I always miss shaving.
2:26 am |
July 16 2009
| 2 notes