I enter the Marketplace Grill and nervously scan my friend’s p-card, as my lunch bunch dining plan does not allot me the comfort of dinner. I head straight to pizza, ignoring the nutritionist’s comment that pizza isn’t the best source of protein for every meal. Stupid.
The woman leaned back, her tired eyes struggling to focus on the faces around her, blurs that surrounded her bedside. She could hear them whispering, concern in their voices as they refused to acknowledge the simple truth. She was dying.
It was an unexceptional moment in her life, she thought to herself philosophically. Surprisingly, she experienced no anxiety, only a calm peace that settled over her body. She anticipated the final breath, almost looked forward to it with a kind of morbid acceptance.
The voices around her got quieter, the turbulent babble of the living finally vanquished by the impending silence of death.
Instead she saw around her the faces of people long gone, the ghosts of her past coming back to haunt her in her final moments. They danced, swirling in vivid colors that reminded her of her youth, yet she felt strangely detached from them. Was her memory playing tricks again? She could no longer tell, her fatigued brain unable to distinguish between reality and the world that existed solely inside her head.
She blinked and suddenly she found herself in the middle of a party. She stumbled forward in shock as the sweating bodies wove their way around her, the pounding music throbbing through the floor up into her veins.
The lights flashed violently, and in the semi-darkness she could see the faces of her friends, mascara running in sweaty streams down their cheeks, their damp hair sticking to the skin on their backs and soaking through what little clothes they were wearing.
I’m listening to the Prairie Home Companion guy recite poetry over the fuzzy sound system at the shithole convenience and liquor store where I work. I’m not sure if it’s good poetry or bad poetry (I dropped out of high school before we got to poetry) but it sure is long.
Corporate says we’re supposed to play jazz music in the store, a special kind that speaks to some secret part of your brain and makes you buy more. But my manager insists we play NPR. He says it makes us seems more sophisticated to all the students. I’m fine with that for the most part, but I know it doesn’t work. Student’s wouldn’t care less if we’re sophisticated or not, they’d come here if we played jazz music or pop music or banjo music or Hitler speeches. We’re just a distasteful barrier separating them from cheap Vodka.
Breaking down walls is no easy task. Looking through a window is something different altogether. From the moment you set eyes on it, you couldn’t peel them away. A glimpse into that wickedly different house. Set on the suburban avenue of all suburban avenues. Not a speck of dust was ever in sight…or so you thought. This gleaming discontinuity frightened you! Yet, fear was a blanket to conceal your curiosity. So there you sat, every Sunday evening, on the porch that looked like everyone else’s, with your ginger cat on lap, the neighbor’s on his.
cw: satire, suicidal ideation
I used to cry at lunch because I was seven and life was meaningless. In middle school I listened to Marilyn Manson and drew an upside down cross on my forehead every morning. In high school I smoked piles of weed. Eventually the doc gave me pills to be happy. They turned my emotions and my dick off but I was, ostensibly, happier.
(Any resemblance of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Except for that one person. You know who you are.)
The first time I knew I was straight, it was like waking up from a bad dream. Everything seemed clear: I realized I like nipples on top of mounds. I realized I like my nipples breasted. They are better as a part of a functional mammary gland. I am a cis-gender, white, heterosexual male, and I’m proud of it. It wasn’t a choice I made, but I’ve accepted it. I can’t change, even if I wanted to, even if I tried. But it wasn’t always this easy.
It began like any other field trip: a long, hot bus ride to the middle of dusty nowhere, biology problem sets interrupted by tepid conversation, the anticipation of another great dig. Adam loved the thrill of anthropology, but his real passion lay inorganic farming. He was a biology major, with a minor in environmental studies. A perfect combination for a farmer, Adam thought. Organic kale, non-GMO spinach, pesticide-free rhubarb, onions, carrots, arugula… Suddenly, the bus jumped. A pothole. The girls on the bus shrieked. Adam smoothly glanced up from his notebook. His dark eyes met another pair unaffected by the pothole.
Sometimes it’s best to start a story with your character. Sometimes, you think, when you’re having a tough time with plot and syntax and all that 101 junk, it’s easiest to start with your protagonist’s bones, adding then muscle and fat and all the good stuff, blood and tears and snot, building the body from the ground up. It’s what God did, right? Right.