You know, death

This is an excerpt from (one of) the projects I will be working on during Nanowrimo this year. I like the dynamic between the characters a lot, and how angry the main character is. I have no idea, yet, what it is he’s angry about.

“I mean, you know, death.”

“What about it”, I ask in a monotone, staring into the depths of my lukewarm coffee, hoping against hope that she didn’t hear my prompt and deflates on her own.

She doesn’t. “You die. Your consciousness on this earth, at this time and place in this body, is gone. You’re dead.”

Uh uh. I get the idea.

“But what if the part of your spirit that makes you you, just gets reborn elsewhere? What if you’re you in some other body, at some other time? Except you don’t remember anything about being you before, and you have to start all over again? And again and again and again?”

I breathe out, make it long and loud, almost like a sigh. She might get the hint and drop it.

She doesn’t. “I don’t know what would be worse. To get to exist one time in all history of mankind, one time and that’s it? Or to have to exist over and over again in different bodies at different times and to never know it? Having to learn to walk and to read and to love and to grieve and dying, every time, without the knowledge of having done it ever before? Can you imagine?”

I lift my head from my coffee contemplation. She isn’t even looking at me, gazing out the window at the barely populated street on this grey fall afternoon. Did she even address me in particular? I opt for a noncommittal grunt.

She sighs, her eyes on pigeons hopping about, drinking from puddles in the pavement.

“What about you? How have you been?” she asks the window.

What about me? I’ve been fine. It’s been seven month twenty two days and I can’t be bothered to count the hours, and I’m fine. I’m over it.

“You don’t have to be over it”, she says, reading my mind like she used to. “It was a Thing. Nobody would look down on you or whatever, for needing more time.”

That sentence makes me…. unbelievably angry. And it’s not so much that I have now heard some version of it at least a thousand times, it’s not even specifically her delivering it. It’s the cold coffee in my cup, the fucking pigeons, the low-hanging clouds, that stupid scarf she always wears when it gets below heatwave temperatures. I hate it. I hate this conversation, I hate this coffee shop, I hate her, and myself. I don’t want to be here.

But she knows that.

Precious

I did some flash fiction based off Inktober prompts last year. This is one of the pieces I wrote.

There’s this one picture. It’s faded a bit, grainy. Slightly sticky in the corners.

She’s smiling, looking at the person holding the camera. Her belly is round.

They’re in the mountains somewhere. The whole world behind her is an asymmetry of deep blues and greens, bright sun catching in her dark hair.

She’s very young. Maybe 23. The knees of her jeans have big holes in them.

Her arms are lifted up, wide, encompassing the universe. She looks radiant.

He used to keep it hidden in a book in his locker at school. That’s why he still has it.

She gave it to him when he was a teenager. They’d just had another row about how she was too controlling, she didn’t give him enough space, she didn’t understand what it was to be young.

He’d just wanted to go to a party at one of his basketball teammate’s house. So what if it was on a school night? Everything didn’t have to be about school, and responsibility. He wanted to be a normal teenager, and make out with girls, and forget about his so-called legacy. He wanted to be young.

She’d left him to sulk and fetched the picture from the study. She’d held it up in his face until he took a look at it, puzzled.

She didn’t remember every detail, like where exactly they were. She remembered, though, that she had never been this happy, and this free, up to that point.

She was pregnant with his sister. This was a few months before she became head of the family, burdened both by the grief of losing her mother and taking the lead of a divided dynasty. And the care of an newborn.

This was the last time, she’d said, she’d felt truly young. And, she’d insisted as she pressed the picture in his hands, she’d never forgotten.

He hadn’t either.

A few months later, their house, all of their pictures, his family, his soul, it all burned to ashes.

All he has left of her, is this picture. And the eyes that look back at him in the mirror.

Five minutes

She closed the door behind her, walked to her car without a backward glance and drove off immediately.

She wanted to wait. She really wanted to. Pause at the door, maybe not close it all the way. Take small, measured steps. Linger in the car, play with her keys a little bit, keep stealing glances at the slightly ajar door. Drive around the block maybe once or twice, before giving up. But for once she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t put her love before her self-esteem. She wouldn’t let foolish hope overtake her.

She did the honorable thing, the cool thing. She was a cool girl, after all. Tough. Unemotional. Someone who didn’t bother with people. Someone who did what she had to do, said what she thought, and didn’t care what people said. She was unattached.

Unattached, starved for human interaction and contact, yet afraid of it. The irony didn’t escape her, and she was determined to win over irony. That’s how she found the perfect loophole: devoting all her hunger, all she had to give, to the one person who wouldn’t give it back, or even care that they couldn’t. She knew the way to love when you fear closeness and intimacy, when you fear being vulnerable with someone, is to love someone who won’t love you back.

But just for once, just today for five minutes, she wished she wasn’t afraid, she wished she could want what she wanted, she wished they could see her and that would be enough.

It never was. It never would be. And she would never stop trying.

So what now?

This is an excerpt from an original project called Alice in Neverland that never actually came to fruition. I did write a few codas for it, and you can find some of those here.

“Ok so what now?” she stage-whispered into my ear.

I huffed a breath and felt her answering grin in my neck down to my toes.

“I don’t know… What do you think we should do?”

“I think we definitely should wait for your roommate to get out of the shower.”

I rolled my eyes, mostly for show. “He’s not coming out of the bathroom naked, you know. He, as a human being, is pretty fond of clothes.”

She blew a raspberry at me. “I wonder why we’re friends, you’re such a bumming bummer. God, have some fun, let me dream!”

I watched her, trying for nonchalant but probably looking bored out of my mind, while she floated around the room, examining Danny’s collection of CD’s and books, the patterns on the throw-pillows, the view from the window. I didn’t understand the pull there, or really, I understood it too well. Everything I saw in this girl was irritating me, her brightly colored 50’s-style dress and hippie hairstyle, her overly theatrical manners like her mundane life was some sort of Broadway stage or an episode of Glee. And still she didn’t feel fake for a second, she felt like this was the real her and she didn’t find a single reason to shy away from it. That was what was buzzing inside my skin, somewhere around my belly-button, making me want to impress her, to make her talk to me, what attracted me like a fucking moth to a flame. I wanted her. I wanted to kiss the soft spot at the back of her knee and see what kind of dramatic Broadway noises I could draw out of her then.

We weren’t really friends. She was socializing me like a wild animal fresh out of the jungle being introduced in a zoo, and I had a hopeless crush. That was all this was and would ever be.