A Houseplant is Dying, Tell it Why it Needs to Live. (prompt #2, of 642 things to write about.)

Earlier today I noticed my ficus, Fifi, was still droopy, so I watered her. It was all I could do. It must have been about a week since she began to wilt. I’ve done everything I could think of. I moved her to a spot with more light but that only made her shed more. I began watering her twice a day, up from once. I even bought some really nice plant food and poured the whole bag into her pot. I am at a total loss for what to do as I sit next to her stroking her few remaining leaves, blowing carbon dioxide I made from my lungs onto her leaves in breathy “I love you”s and “please, don’t leave me”s.

Tricia and I bought Fifi on a whim from a booth at the local farmers market on sunny Sunday when we first leased this apartment. I thought it was a silly purchase but it made her happy. “It’ll bring the place some life, Nate.” She told me as she handed me the pot to carry to the car. “You’ll see, we’ll take care of it together. It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself. We’ll call her Fifi.”

“Her? How do you know it’s not a boy?” I asked as I adjusted the pot in my hands so as not to drop it and a large chunk of soil tipped out down the front of my white t-shirt. I laughed and so did she.

I guess to her it was more than a plant it was a symbol of our love, our life together. Over the next few years we kept the plant in the same spot, a few feet from the small window in our shared bedroom. She would water it everyday before she went to work, caress it’s leaves and whisper something before turning to me caressing my hair, whispering, “I love you,” and kissing me goodbye.

The plant grew and shed leaves all around it’s base. I’d pick them up before she came home, begrudgingly. “‘It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself,’” I’d say in a mocking her. Every so often during her morning ritual I’d poke fun at her for loving the plant more than me. She’d raise her eyebrow, put her hands on her hips and affect a mock indignant tone then she’d give me a little more than a kiss.

It was beautiful, and happy, and light, and it was some of the best times I ever had. Then seemingly out of the blue Tricia became tired. She would still wake up water the plant whisper to it and kiss me but it was more like soap actor going through the motions than my beautiful, passionate Tricia.

As time wore on she would stay in bed more often, slowly neglecting her morning ritual more and more. She said it was nothing and she’d be better the next day. She’d say the same thing the next day and the next and the next until I finally forced her to the doctors. He said it was cancer. He said it was much too late to do anything about it, it had already spread to most of her organs. It was a matter of days he told me. All they could do was to make her comfortable.

She was admitted to the hospital. I made them let me bring Fifi into the room with her. Everyday I would go to her. I’d water the plant, stroke it, and breathe, “I love you,” onto it’s leaves. Then I’d cross the room and sit in the chair next to her bed. I would hold her hand, stroke her lank, greasy hair, and whisper “I love you, please don’t leave me,” in her ear. I would do this every day, every day until she mustered her last bit of energy and rattled, “I love you, Nate, I’m sorry. Please, take care of Fifi for me.”

No More Clowning Around

Richard sat in the mirror meticulously applying his make up. He painted the white foundation in long smooth strokes making sure to flatten any clumps along the way until it covered his entire facade. He then made a caricature of a smile in red and blue around his mouth. Finally he pinched the big red ball so the slit on the side opened up. He stared into it for a second before he placed it around his nose. He looked himself in the eyes and smiled; no longer Richard, he exhaled and said to himself, “Hello, Boppo,” and squeezed his big red nose twice making a honking sound with his mouth each time.

Sarah sat in the kitchen repeatedly tapping her thumbs together between her folded hands. She stared at the space between their dirty refrigerator full of half checked to-do lists and invitations to children’s birthday parties, and the semi-doorless, paint chipped cabinet that surrounded it. She then got up and paced the wobbly kitchen table they’d picked up from a craigslist curbside ad. Finally she stopped at her framed bachelors degree. She traced the lettering through the glass before she thoughtlessly turned her head to his clown school diploma framed in cartwheeling clowns attached at the limbs, dressed in all manner of brightly-colored, tasteless outfits. She sat herself back down and frowned; no longer able to cope, she exhaled and said, “What’s taking him so long?” her rage built each time she heard him honk from the bathroom.

He walked in with a goofy grin plastered across his face. She wanted to smack it off.

“You look like an idiot.”

“That’s kind of the point isn’t it?”

“Funny,” she said laying her slender arms on the table.

“Exactly,” he said not looking at her as he opened the fridge.

He bent over at the waist looking into the fridge. His vibrant rainbow covered, egregiously large ass seemed framed by the light emanating around it.

“You know it’s better to bend at the knees.”

“Yes, Mother,” he said removing the peanut butter and jelly and placing it on the counter.

“Won’t they have food there?”

“I’m hungry now.” He said turning to her, biting his sandwich with his lips peeled back.

“You just going to leave that there then?”

“You seem aggravated, Sis. Can we skip the passive aggressiveness and jump to the yelling? I’m kind of on a time crunch.”

She stood from her chair with such force it toppled over backward, he started. This made him look more surprised than his perfectly painted eyebrows intended.

“Fuck you, Dick.”

“Go on.” He nodded causing his pastel blue/green afro to bob.

“Our house is turning to shit; Nothing ever gets done around here except your stupid make-up. ”

“Okay, valid point, but you know I’m gone all day-“

“Don’t you dare say it.” She said stepping toward him.

“-Clowning around. I wasn’t going to until you said something.” He explained, “what I was going to say was: I’m gone all day working two jobs so we can keep the house, what are you doing? Maybe if you spent less time on the computer and more time checking off all these fucking to do lists you keep making then maybe the house would be in better shape.” He punctuated this by shoving the rest of the sandwich in his mouth.

“I’m talking to professors and applying for internships trying to better myself. Plus, dad never taught me how to be handy, you’re the big brother isn’t that your job.”

Swallowing, “My job… my job? Just because I’m a guy means I’m supposed to be handy? You went to college what’s your stupid degree worth if you don’t even know how to use a screw driver.”

“Oh, my degree is stupid.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh I’m sorry I forgot you went to clown college let me explain it to you. Your. Degree. Is. A. Joke.”

“Fitting, I mean, I am a clown. At least mine wasn’t a $500,000 joke. Who’s hiring physicists right now? No one? Oh weird, at least I knew going into it my degree was going to be a joke.”

She began flailing her arms in a rage. “You know that’s not how it works, you have to get your- why am I even explaining this to you?”

“Just because I’m a clown doesn’t mean I’m a fool.” His oversized shoe squeaked as he stepped forward in anger. “If I didn’t have to pay all of the bills, buy all the food and pay your fucking student loans I could be a clown full time, I’d never have to take off my costume. I could be living my dream.”

“God forbid you can’t live your stupid dream of being a clown. What about my dream, huh?”

“Your dream? How is going to school indefinitely a dream?”

“It’s not indefinite, I can’t be a professor with only a bachelors degree. I need at a masters and that’s if I just want to teach at a community college,” she shutters. “I need you to support me in this you’re all I have.”

“I do support you, that’s what I’m saying. I need you to support me to, and maybe help out around the house some when you have nothing better to do.”

“How am I supposed to support you if all you want to do is clown around?” She yelled with the fury only years of rumination could build.

“How are we supposed to both live our dreams if we can’t even support each other. Everything we’ve ever done has been one sided always you, you, you. I’m sick of it, I have to go.” He turned to leave and his oversized trousers clipped the jar of jelly shattering it on the floor. “Ah, shit. I got shit on my fucking… fuck”

“You’re just going to leave that there, huh?”

He’d already left the room, faintly he heard, “always fucking cleaning up after you.”

“Eat a dick, Sarah.” He yelled.

“Eat a bullet, Dick.” She yelled back.

He slammed the door causing a shudder to go throughout the old house. Sarah’s college diploma shook off the wall and shattered in front of her as she bent down to pick up the jelly covered, broken glass.

A clearly audible scream emanated from the house as Richard opened the door of his ’98 Honda Civic. He didn’t look back as the suspension creaked under him as he got in and drove off to the party.

Parked out front of the gaudy mcmansion which vomited rainbow colored streamers and the laughter of children Richard downed 2 tiny bottles of Makers Mark he’d bought on the way. He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and said, “Hey kids… No that’s not right,” this time in a higher register, “Hey, kids!” He cleared his throat and belched then said in the same pitch, “Hey, kids! It’s me Boppo, ready to have some fun?” Then affecting a ridiculous expression he laboriously climbed out of his tiny sedan, dropping his emptied bottles into the pristine gutter as he stood.

Sophie, adorned in jewels and a flowing, crisp-white sundress, greeted him at the door. “You must be Boppo,” she said curtly ushering him through the door, “follow me, the kids are in the back.” They passed through the wide open french doors decked with streamers and a banner exclaiming, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESTON!” It opened to a sunwashed patio brimming with Tommy Bahama decorated adults and GAP adorned children. The patio led to a vibrant green lawn where a petting zoo and a bounce house had been set up. “You can set up there in the corner by the pool.”

“So where’s Preston?”

“He’s right over there. Preston!” she called.

A small toe-headed child turned to look. A plastic, silver spoon dropped from his mouth as his eyes widened fearfully. He began crying and ran into the house.

Sophie turned to Boppo in disgust, as if he’d drop-kicked her precious Preston. He shrugged.

“Why don’t you just get set up I’ll have my brother bring the other kids over.” She huffed then turned and briskly walked into the house.

No sooner than he’d dropped his duffel bag and started unpacking did children gather wide-eyed around him.

“Hey, Kids! It’s me Boppo!” He said, exuberantly opening his arms to them. “Who wants a balloon animal. I can make worms, snakes, and armless lizards.” He began pumping air into a balloon but let it go early, purposefully hitting himself in the face. This garnered a big laugh from the kids who were now dropping rabbits from the petting zoo and bouncing head-first from the bounce house to gather around him. There was even a chuckle from the crowd of adults keeping an acceptable distance.

As he pratfell and bounced through his routine the sweet sound of children’s laughter washed over him. Normally, this would assuage the stress of whatever happened outside of the costume, but it failed to wash away the sickening feeling the mornings argument had stuck in him. Beneficially, however, it forced him to try harder to find better ways of making a fool of himself.

Unfortunately the end of his act had come and it neither expunged his sister’s terrible scream from replaying in his head nor had it pulled Preston out of his childish fear.

“Where is the birthday boy I haven’t seen him all day!”

“He’s inside crying,” one boy gleefully explained.

“That’s too bad maybe a song will cheer him up, now sing loudly so he can hear,” Boppo began to sing:

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, and you really wanna show it, clap your hands.”

“No Preston?” He said as he exaggerated a searching affectation with his feet planted widely below him and his hand shading his eyes from the sun. The memory of how Sarah had cried for hours even after the clown had left his own 7th birthday pressed itself to the fore of his mind. A fresh wave of guilt washed over him remembering how his fondness for the clown had prevented him from knowing, let alone comforting, his sister’s distress. All this while the mornings argument played again and again in his head.

“One more time kids!

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, tell me how,” Richard unconsciously let slip.

“If you’re happy and you know it, I want you to show me.

“Tell me how.”

A few surprised looks specked the faces of the adult crowd, and another toe-headed boy matter-of-factly said, “That’s not how the song goes.”

Shit, Thought Richard. “Yell out why you’re happy kids, maybe that will cheer Preston up,” Boppo recovered. “How about you little boy? Yeah in the red striped polo.” He said pointing.

“I’m happy because I have a mommy and daddy who love me.”

A pair of adults wrapped their arms around each other’s waist, an invisible hand squeezed Richard’s heart.

“Uh, what about you little girl?” Boppo mechanically pointed to a golden haired girl in a pink dress.

“I’m happy because I love my brother and he loves me,” she said hugging the boy next to her.

“That’s great.” Bop mustered as Preston and his mother emerged from the house wiping tears from his cheeks. With renewed energy Boppo exclaimed, “we did it kids there he is: the man of the hour. What makes you happy, Preston.”

Preston sniffled, then with pride said, “I’m happy and I know it, ‘cause mommy said I can tell you to leave.”

“Oh.” Richard’s frown was strong enough to pull even Boppo’s painted-on smile down with it. He looked at the mother whose hands draped the little boys shoulders in a gesture comfort and transferred will. She met his pitiful gaze with a mother’s immutable pride.

“Why don’t you gather your things and meet me inside,” then turning to her child she said, “go play with your friends the scary clown is leaving now.”

Richard reluctantly gathered his things and met Sophie in the house.

“Kids, am I right?” He said jokingly.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, nothing. Listen, I’m sorry Preston was so scared, I had no way of knowing.”

“I didn’t expect you to.” She said maliciously as she snatched her wallet off a shelf. She wrote a check and handed it to him.

He stared at it for a second before saying, “what is this?”

“A check.” Her expression might as well have said, “idiot.”

“This isn’t even half of what I quoted you over the phone.”

“Well you made my kid cry, he didn’t even see your act.”

“Do you think what I do is some kind of joke?” He said waving the check held in his comically large gloves.

She stared at him blankly, “what’re you complaining about? You’re lucky I even paid you.”

“Do you think I’m some kind of fool?” His jester’s staff fell from his unzipped bag as he gesticulated.

“I’m the one who should be mad. You traumatized my Preston, who knows if he’ll ever recover? You’re lucky my husband isn’t here.”

Picking his staff from the floor and waved it furiously in the air, “fine, whatever, bitch, tell your husband I said ‘hi’ when he gets home from whatever’s more important than his kid’s own birthday.” He said slamming the front door behind him.

At the end of the driveway he put a cigarette between his lips. While searching for his lighter a man called out from behind him, “Boppo, Boppo. Hey you heading out?”

Richard quickly removed the cigarette and hid it in his palm as he turned to see a man in a silky, collared shirt with palm trees framing his protruding beer-gut and a kid attached to his arm walking briskly toward him. “Yeah, Boppo’s job is done here, off to make the next group of kids smile and laugh.”

The child stood silently in his vibrant blue polo and khakis as his dad explained, “My boy really loved your act, can I get your card his birthday is coming up in a couple weeks.”

“Of course,” he reached into the pocket of his duffel bag searched around affected a surprised look. “Oh no, it looks like I’m all out of cards,” he exaggerated his dismay, then looked down at the child, “what’s that behind your ear?”

The child looked around in surprise and frantically brushed his ears, “What, I don’t know.”

“Here let me get that for you.” He reached behind the child’s ear and presented his business card to the wide-eyed and elated child. “Give that to your dad so I can come to your party.”

The child held the card in both hands as if it was the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.

His father said to Boppo, “thanks, man you were great,” then to his kid, “didn’t you have something you wanted to say to the clown, Jimmy.”

Jimmy raised his eyes just above the card and said almost in a whisper, “I wanna be just like you someday.”

His father laughed and said, “Kids say the darnedest things don’t they,” as he patted Boppo on the shoulder.

Boppo affected a laugh and said, “yeah, yeah they do.”

They waved goodbye as he crossed the street and got in his tiny sun-damaged sedan. He lit his cigarette, stalled then drove off.

He looked at himself in the rearview mirror, Boppo stared back. He talked as the cigarette bobbed between his lips, “Is this what you wanted? Is this what you dreamed it would be?”

“Shut up, Boppo. Don’t you start in on me now.”

“What did she pay us, let me see the check.”

Richard removed the check from his pocket.

“Ooph, ouch. What a bitcharooniedoonie,” Boppo observed.

“Yeah life probably just isn’t going her way and she has to take it out on whoever will let her get away with it.”

“You’re right about that, man.”

Richard took a long drag of his cigarette, “fuck.”

“Yeah that was brutal. What were you thinking when you let that ‘tell me how’ shit slip. That was a just us thing.”

“I don’t know, man. I guess that fight with Sarah was really getting to me. That was some good thinking asking the kids what makes them happy. Even though they kind of hit me where it hurts you really saved the act.”

“Yeah what the fuck was Sarah’s problem this morning?”

“She’s probably not happy with how her life turned out either. Ever since our parents died she’s been pulling further and further away from me. I just need to talk to her about it.”

“Yeah because that worked so well all the other times.”

“I mean a real conversation, no bullshitting around the bush.”

“Do you really think you can do that?”

“Yeah, well I’m pretty sure I can. I mean it’s like I’ve been hiding behind this mask from everyone, especially her, and all it really does is make everything worse.” Richard said to the mirror as he rounded the corner to his street and flicked his cigarette out the window.

He parked the car in the driveway and said, “whelp, I guess it’s showtime, Richard.”

He entered the house. The only sound was the door latching behind him as he made his way to the kitchen. When he passed through the doorway he noticed the jelly had been cleaned but there was a broken frame still on the ground. He looked up at the wall and notice his diploma had been taken from his frame and replaced with Sarah’s. Infuriated he stormed into the living room. No sign. Then he raged into the den. Not even a tumbleweed. Finally, with his temper boiling off his make-up he busted through Sarah’s door to find her crying.

“Get out!” she screamed.

Richards anger immediately disappeared and was replaced with overwhelming concern. “What’s wrong?”

“I said get out of here.”

“Sarah, come on I’m your big brother tell me what’s wrong?” He said removing the big red ball from his nose.

“Just shut up. You wouldn’t understand, everything goes your way. Just get out of here you fucking clown.”

“I just-“

“This isn’t a joke, get out!”

Defeated Richard left to his room. When inside he pulled out a half emptied bottle of Makers Mark and spit cleaned his tumbler with a dirty shirt from the hamper. He set them on his desk, sat down and began drinking. After the second glass he poured a third and left it as he got up to rummage through his closet. He parted the hanging t-shirts and clown pants, and tossed aside several props until he found an ornate box. He took it back to the desk and placed it between the bottle and the glass. He sipped his whiskey as he opened it. Reaching inside he pulled out a multicolored ribbon and continued to pull until all the colors of the rainbow presented themselves about 8 times. Finally reaching the last of the colors he pulled out an ornately carved pistol. “Goodbye, Boppo,” he said as he held the gun to his temple. He pulled the trigger.

BLAM, read the tiny flag.

A Love Story, Part 1

Bananas, or My First Lesson

 

Everyday I take the same way home after school; go left out of the main entrance, walk three blocks, turn right, pass the zoo, and my house is four blocks down on the left. Its a simple route that my dad taught me when I was in 3rd grade and I’ve been taking it ever since. I’m nearing the end of 8th grade now and soon I’ll be in a new school, and I’ll have to take a different way home; maybe I’ll have to take the bus, maybe it’ll be miles away and there won’t even be a bus. As I was overthinking every possible danger of my new route I heard the familiar howl of my friend bananas.

 

“Bananas,” I call back with the name I’d given him the first day I walked home on my own.

 

“Where are you, I hear you but I can’t see you” I yell to him playfully as he bursts out of the trees and lands on the bars. He howls and screeches at me as if he’s catching me up on the events of his day. I pull out the banana I always bring to give him on my way home. He crawls down the bars to meet me at shoulder level and starts grabbing at the banana.

 

“No, Bananas, what did I tell you about manners? Now ask politely.” He complies and asks in his native tongue for his banana as I peel it, “here, since you asked so nicely” I hand him his banana then unwrap my own. We sit for a moment enjoying our fruit, usually I run my mouth when I meet up with bananas at the end of the day but today, I guess, I just had too much on my mind, or not enough. He just sits there, though, as unexpectant as ever. I’ve always like that about him, sometimes its nice not having another person around. They always expect you to contribute when sometimes you just want to focus on yourself.

 

“I’m going to miss you bananas, next year, when I’m off to high school. I really hope I can make time to see you, but my older brother keeps telling me ‘enjoy this time, you’re not going to have time to later.’ He’s an idiot though, he always tries to scare me with that stuff.” I pet bananas as I explain, he lengthens his body to extend the feeling of my hand on his fur each time I stroke it. “I don’t know, maybe he’s right, he always comes home and closes his door and doesn’t come out until dinner. Mom and Dad did just give him a computer though, he’s probably just playing with it the whole time. I can’t wait to get my own though, he says its the best thing ever. Well, he says the internet is the best thing ever, he never says why though, I mean I’ve used it before, it is pretty cool; I can do all my school work on it without having to go the library and carry books, but I’m always locked out of stuff on it.”

 

I continue absent-mindedly petting him, he purrs and closes his eyes, he still hangs on the bars, lower now as I’d taken a seat against the fence, and enjoys his banana. I take a bite out of mine. We sit again in silence. The only sounds are the common and usually ignored; cars passing on the street behind me, passersby patting the ground with their feet, and sometimes brief confused whispers between pedestrians as they pass by me sitting at the fence of the zoo as I stare glassy-eyed in no particular direction while I stroke my friend.

 

“You know, Bananas, I think you’re the only one that ever listens to me. Yeah, my parents always say I can tell them anything but its so uncomfortable talking to them about… stuff. Mom always tells me to talk to Dad, Dad always tells me to talk to my brother, and he just tells me to google it and when I do its blocked. I just want to know why Jenny makes me feel weird.” Bananas twitched drowsily while I continued to pet his soft little body. “I just get so… so weird when I talk to her now; like, my body tenses up, I start mumbling and forgetting my words, then, the worst part, my stomach feels like it’s fallen out completely and I feel like I might throw up all over her. I’ve known her all my life, and, I mean, we’ve grown up together. We’ve always been in the same grade. We used to live next door to each other and play everyday. I remember our moms used to wash us in the bathtub together when we came inside covered in dirt.” Bananas wriggled under my hand so I took it off and let him stretch, when he was done he laid on his belly, fully extended now in the dirt on the edge of his habitat. He opens one eye and looks up at me expectantly so I continue to stroke him. “We did everything together; made mudpies, played doctor, climbed trees. She’s my best friend and now I can hardly look her in the eye.”

 

“Who in the eye?” Bananas and I both jump out of our skin, he curls up and retreats slightly under a bush as I look around to see a familiar face.

 

“Jenny, hi!” The words stumble out of my mouth as I fall over myself to greet her.

 

“Hey I thought I’d find you here, I wanted to hang out with you after school but you left in such a hurry.” She says as I hug her. My stomach flips upside down and I can’t find anything to say to her.

 

After a pause she says, “Who were you talking to?”

 

“Just bananas, he’s my friend.” I reply, I really hope she didn’t just hear my voice crack.

 

She giggled even before I finished my thought, and it just made my stomach churn even more. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen him,” she goes over to the edge of the fence and begins calling him out of his hiding place. “Bananas, Bananaaas,” she repeats this a few times until he eventually crawls out from under his bush, “Hi, Bananas, its been a long time huh?” She croons to him.

 

As she bent over to say, “come here boy, come here,” my eyes, uncontrollably and unnaturally, run the length of her body. When did her skin get so smooth? Had her hair always been so soft looking? Then, when my breathless eyes finally ended on her chest I thought, what are those; had those always been there?

 

I catch myself before she does and step a little closer to her. She already got bananas to fully come out of his bush and was petting him gently but firmly.

 

“I think he likes you more than me,” I say as I watch my monkey wriggle and purr more than I’d ever seen him before.

 

She giggles again, like she wants me to faint, and says, “yeah, I think I have a softer touch because I’m a girl.”

 

“Yeah,” I say back, forgetting every other word I’d ever heard.

 

“Hey, Timmy…” She pauses, seemingly entranced by petting Bananas. I noticed he was fully extended on the ground, trying to feel her hand on as much of his body as he could. It looked as if he’d never felt anything so perfect in his life. Just as I began wishing that was me Jenny looks up at me and says, “I came here to find you because today was the last day of school and I just really wanted to tell you, I think I really like you, like, like you, like you.”

 

I feel my heart fly right out of my chest, my stomach, nowhere to be found. My palms start sweating and my face explodes with fire, I finally manage to say, “uhh… bluh… guh…” She just continues to stare at me while she absent-mindedly pets bananas into an absolute frenzy.

She stops immediately and jumps away in terror, straight into me, knocking us onto the ground. I just lay there dazzled by her sparkling green eyes, “I never really noticed how pretty your eyes were.” She smiles the biggest most heartfelt smile I’d ever seen and wraps her arms around me pulling us up. Her arms still holding me tight. I wrap mine around hers, but now It doesn’t feel so weird, now I just feel perfect; whole.

Birds of a Feather

Note from the author: Hey every one this is another flash fiction thing I had to do for class “2030, Iceland, A Story of Love in Multiple Forms,” now simply called “A Love Story” is almost complete, I just need to do some finishing touches and I will release it episodically in the coming weeks. I thought you all might be becoming disillusioned at the lack of new content so here you go, enjoy. 

“Excuse me, Ms. S. I need to go pee!” I said squirming the same horribly small desk-chair combos I’ve had to have sat in for the past 7 years.

“No, Steven, Timothy’s already in the bathroom; you know the rule.” She said while continuing to write the pythaguras theory she’d been going on about.

Screw Tim, she let’s him do whatever he wants, it’s my turn, “Okay, so Tim gets to spend 15 minutes in the bathroom while I get to pee myself all over this beautiful desk.” As soon as I finish Tim walks in with his hands in his pockets and his eyes to his feet. One of the girls, a couple columns over, giggled and whispered something I didn’t catch. “Ms. S. I’m going to the bathroom now.” With that and nothing else I’m already passing Tim out of the door.

“What’s so exciting, Tim?” I heard someone say behind me as I passed into to the hallway. Red, white, and blue blur together as I rush through locker hall and tackle the swinging door to relief. After I finished I decided to take my time going back to class. I looked through the stalls, opening them one by one; nothing, ew god gross, toilet overflowing with toilet paper, Kamel Reds, fuck yeah! I put my prize in my kangaroo pocket, hiding it with my hands against the fabric while I walked back into class.

I spun into my seat with my back to the teacher while I dropped the cigarettes into my backpack. Rachel looked at me and smirked, my heart skipped a beat; she took a smile from me in return. “Hey, Steven what you got there?” She asked leaning across the aisle.

“Shh, I’ll show you at lunch, come with me to the portables?” My voice cracked from astonishment, she giggles into her sleeve and nods. Woohoo!

I notice Tim talking to the girl next to him, again, while the teacher explains how A and B make C. She’s giggling, watching him adjust himself in his seat by the window. Birds congregated on the tree that grew above the wall around the school, tweeting and flying in circles around each other. Two of the birds flitted with each other concentrically, coming together a few feet above the others. One fell away and landed between two sitting on a branch, it pecked each on either side of it while its friend flew over them. It left the two on the branch to fly with its mate again. The quartet then flew together in separate circles above and under and around each other until I couldn’t tell which was which.

Something cracked, I twisted my head to the front. Ms. Smith was leaning over me, dry erase marker pressed against my desk “what’s so interesting Steven? Care to share it with the class?”

“Uh… Uhm, well there’s these bir-” BEEP, BEEEEP, BEEP. One short, one long, and another short; lunch time. I stood up with my bag and looked the teacher in the eye while I left the classroom with the other students. Single file out the door, stay in the same line, parallel with the others. Tim walked hunched over ahead of me, encroaching on the boy ahead of him.

We exit through the grey-green double doors to the concrete square. Vending machines with colorful screens line the walls of the square, my classmates swarm their gentle glow. Every time, thank you mom for packing my lunch. I felt something brush against my leg, “Oh, hey, Tim what’s-” he looked at me terrified then quickly dropped his head and ran away, “up? That was weird.” I said to myself.

I waded through the sea of classmates and the din of chatter, laughter, and the occasional screech out of the main lunch area. There was an overhang with an expansive mural displaying an american eagle, with the appropriate flag, raining stars down on an open field with children playing. One of the students was etching an elephant in the faded red lunch table as I walked to where Rachel was waiting for me in the sun just past the awning; her fly-aways refracted the light around her brown hair. “Hey,” she said, pulling another smile from me.

“Hi,” I throw my hand up then quickly it’s back at my side in a kind of awkward wave. “You have your lunch already?”

“Yeah, my dad makes it for me,” she answers, then bashfully adds, “want to go over to the portables?”

Smile still uncontrollably plastered on my face I lead her to my spot between the portables and the wall. It was perfect: I could see everything coming this way, but one could see me. We sat down across each other and looked in our brown bags, almost in unison we pull out our lunch. She takes out the brightest fuji apple as I pull out the same apple that’s lost its sheen. She set it on her lap and took out a salad, it was all sorts of red, green, yellow, purple, and white in their purest form. I pulled out a squished peanut butter and jelly with a purple-brown spot soaking through one side. We sat and ate looking down at our food, I’d chance a glance at her but she was either chewing or looking at her phone, or both.

“What is Tim doing?” I said, she looked up at me in confusion; she was facing the wall. I pointed around the corner where Tim was standing a few feet away. He’d just been pushed away from an embrace with a belligerent 8th grade football player. As the bull ran after the matador I saw a girl in a loose dress with golden-brown hair keeled over in laughter farther in the distance. Immediately, I heard hurried footsteps to my right. Tim launched himself over rachel and past me then hid under the wheelchair ramp.

“Did you see some skinny little gaybo run through here?” The football player asked while gasping for breath; he looked like a lineman, not muscular though.

“Uh, well… no its just been us back here,” I replied standing as straight as I could, he still towered over me. He leaned into me until his nose almost touched mine, forcefully exhaled onto my upper lip and skulked away. I turned around to tell Tim of his safety, but he was already wrapped around me. He drew me in close; I felt something press against my leg, what? Does he… oh, no that’s not his. I press myself into him until I feel the rigid lump crumple against his pelvis; he fell on his back in apparent agony.

“Hey woah, Tim get up,” Without turning my head I scanned to see if anyone was looking. The golden-haired girl, wiping her cheeks and regaining control of her laughter, was walking this way. He was holding his crotch and crying, “my dick! My dick! Oh god, my dick!”

“Dude! Your dick! What did I do?” I replied in hyperbolic concern.

“You pushed it back in!” He declared as he slowly lifted himself from the ground. Suddenly he sprung himself around me again, legs and everything, and ecstatically exclaimed, next to my ear, “Thank you!” He dropped to his feet and continued, “finally, I was so scared it was going to fall off. It came out and wouldn’t go back in.”

I stood there, bewildered, for a few seconds, looking him in the eye; I broke down. I couldn’t control my laughter. By the time that girl had shown up I was in tears, curled into a ball. How does he think of this shit? How does he do this shit? Mid thought I was lifted to my feet and greeted to toothy grin that reached twin blue eyes behind a shade of dark hair. “Hey man, thank you: no one else had the balls to help me.”

“Stop… Stop please… It’s too much,” I sputter through my convulsions. I couldn’t handle it; this was the funniest kid alive. I leaned back against the wall, resting my head against it and closing my eyes. I listened to the birds chirping in the trees just outside, the cars out on the freeway, and, lastly, someone clapping by my nose, pulling me back.

“Hey, how’d you know?” Tim was standing directly in front of me at this point, still giddy.

“Know what? That you had a toilet paper roll for a wiener?”

“Yeah,” he replied his eyes focused on mine, anticipation?

“Well, you know, I felt a wiener before, in my life, that wasn’t one. Was that why you spent 15 minutes in the bathroom?”

He blurt out a short laugh, “Yeah why?”

“Ms. S wouldn’t let me leave until you got back, douche.”

Without offense, he replied flatly, “oh, well if you really had to go you should have gone before me.”

“Yeah, or you shouldn’t take 15 minutes in the bathroom,” I replied feigning indignation.

After a short, silent pause Tim stuck out his hand, “I’m Tim, this is Jenny, we used to live next door, but she moved,” with his other hand he pointed to Jenny.

I looked down at his hand, “I know who you are, we’ve been in the same grade for 7 years.”

“Hey rachel, hey steven,” Jenny said brightly as Tim put his hand by his side and she put hers on his shoulder.

“Oh, well we never talked before so I felt awkwa- like I had to introduce myself.” He said smoothly, I almost didn’t catch the slip.

Rachel drew closer to Jenny, “Hey, Jen, oh I was going to ask you what I should wear to your sleepover,” I immediately tuned out of that conversation.

Tim comes close to me and whispers, “So what are you guys doing back here,” winking at me.

“Just eating some lunch,” I said nonchalantly.

“Just some lunch?” He repeated dubiously while backing out of my space.

I turn and point to our lunch, “Yup, just some lunch,” which had been trampled, to my surprise.

“Oh, man, I’m so sorry, here (hands me a few dollars) Jenny’s mom made enough for both of us today, but my mom gave me this; I don’t need it.”

“Thanks, but I’m full, plus I can’t stand the food they have in there,” I said keeping my hands to myself.

“Well, take it, maybe sh-you’ll be hungry after school.”

“You know what I will take it, because…” I paused for dramatic effect while I reached into my bag, “of this,” I ecstatically presented the Kamels I’d found this morning.

Jenny stops mid conversation, her and Tim’s eyes widen, she spoke first, “what are those?” She said without any discernable emotion.

“They’re Kamel Reds, my older cousin says they’re the best,” I responded less enthusiastically.

“C…can I have one?” Tim asked, in a surprisingly timid voice.

“Of course,” I said as my heart slowed its beat. I opened the pack and offered it around, everyone took one. Jenny had a lighter in her dress and lit us all up. In the next second we were hacking in a circle. It felt like I swallowed razors, but it tasted like… nothing I’d ever had before. It was delicious. I took another drag immediately after I recovered; the razors dulled. Jenny was sitting serenely on the handrails above the ramp dragging her cigarette, how?

Rachel sat by my feet against the wall and looked up at me, I sat next to her. She asked me what I liked to do outside of school, when I told her she seemed interested. She even asked if she could join me sometime as she realized we live in the same neighborhood. Tim and Jenny joined their conversation with ours while we finished our cigarettes, then left us there alone. Rachel and I talked until the bell rang and we had to join everyone back in the classroom.

Poetic Description

Unicorns and minotaurs,
Horses with messy hair and some guy on a horse,
Seen in the distance in an age without glasses.

Adam and Eve,
Single cells and mitosis,
Expressed to a populace unfamiliar with the miniscule.

Fantastic and impossible?
Artistic license poetic description
Shown to inexperienced eyes.

A Normal Conversation

“So, last night I was watching TV, you know, one of those cop dramas. You know how there’s always some murder, it was this guy and his girlfriend, like, called the cops saying she just came home and didn’t know what was going on. Her boyfriend was on the ground bleeding and mangled from being beaten by a bat,” Amanda, paused for a second to take a sip of her tea.

Amy, in turn, responded, slightly offended at, yet intrigued by the brutality, “That… sounds awful, which one were you watching?”

“It was just one of them, I don’t really remember, but it turned out that she was the killer, I never expected it! The whole episode she was so heartbroken by it, but it turned out she had been hiding her hate for him, keeping it inside the whole time, letting it bottle up until she just exploded. It was really sad when she explained it at the end…”

Amy let her drone on, half listening to the extended explanation of how the character brutalized her boyfriend with his bat, half just listening to her voice. Like the most beautiful symphony it rose and fell; it only grew sweeter and more harmonious as she let it caress her ears. She was never fully interested in what Amanda said, it was never of much substance, she was more interested in just being with her. It made her feel happy, and complete.

“So how are things going with your boyfriend?” She butted in when she felt she’d heard enough gore, feigning concern she added, “are you guys still ‘on the rocks?’”

“No, I think it’ll be better now, I worked it out.”

“Oh, wow really? What happened? what’d you do?”

“Nothing, I’m just, probably, going to need a place to stay for a couple days.”

“Did he kick you out? That’s terrible, you paid for that place too you know,” Amy said with vicarious indignation, trying to hide her elation from hearing the delicious fruits of her labour. ”You know, you could always stay with me, it’ll be like those sleepovers we had as kids,” she said forcing a laugh to seem like she was joking, but just the reminiscence of it gave her a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. She had only recently realized how much she missed those intimate nights with her most gorgeous and closest friend.

“That’s so nice of you to offer, I’d love that. I do miss that, how we used to talk all night about boys, pillow fights, oh, and remember that night my first boyfriend broke up with me and you let me cry on your shoulder until we both fell asleep.”

Amy couldn’t help but smile for it was her most fond memory of their relationship. She could remember every minute detail of that night. She immediately recalled the flowery aroma of Amanda’s gorgeous, thick, blonde hair while she stroked it, the warmth of her tears on her bosom as Amy comforted the 14 year old Amanda to sleep. Tonight, she thought, tonight is the night I could make this all happen again. Everything I’ve been working for since that fucking boyfriend took her from me is coming together.

“That would be nice,” Amy said still deep in her memory, she was startled when she heard amanda’s phone ring, Amanda answered it. Amy, deciding to be nosy, tried to listen in. She couldn’t hear much of the other side of the conversation only truncated phrases or words, but she distinctly heard: “questioning…” “squad car to your location…” “stay where you are.” Fearful but acting concerned, she asked , “Who was that?”

“Oh its nothing I just need to go to the police station for a bit.”

Amy was shocked at this news, What does she have to go there for, What did she do, have I done?

A little bit later, the police showed up, much to Amy’s disappointment and horror. She knew why they were on their way but she didn’t want to believe it. She was so close to her goal, however, she never imagined it could end this way. All she could do was sit there and watch as her best friend and almost lover was questioned by the police about a painted wooden bat, her bloody apartment and her allegedly murdered boyfriend.

Amy left the coffee shop shortly after her friend was handcuffed and driven away. She arrived home. She fell apart as the door shut behind her. Through her tears and sniffling she lamented “Amanda… Amanda… no, this isn’t fair, she was mine again, and now i’ve lost her forever.”

A Leech Becomes a Lilypad

In this story we find a young man, an ordinary 20-something, one whose station in life has yet to be decided. He is not bright but certainly above average, and full of the passion and energy of youth. His time mostly spent in an altered state of mind communing and enjoying the energy and ideas of the peers closest to him. Ultimately, however, he was of no service to anyone outside this chosen community of similar leeches. His mind was full of how things ought to be, solutions to the problems of society, his misdirected energy has yet to converge with these ideas, and therefore were caged in his mind, of no use to society as a whole.

He’d attended school, as per the norm; grade school, middle school, high school, and for a short while he dipped his feet into the less structured and, to him,  more attractive world of college. Presently, however, he was stagnant, having lost interest in school after 13 arduous years; 12 mandatory, 1 chosen and regrettable. Lost, actually, may be the wrong descriptor for how could he lose something he never possessed. During this time he’d been advised by those wiser than he to appreciate this opportunity to gain knowledge without having to give in return, but how could he appreciate what was seemingly structured to take for granted? He was kindly forced to sit and stay and receive proper knowledge without regard to understanding and application. Some could argue he was a fated leech, for it was the norm to him to receive without return.

David and his closest friend conversed, inhaling thick smoke and altering the filter through which they saw the world, expositing theory after theory searching for nothing but learning and discovering many things previously unknown. He greatly enjoyed these talks and through them he gained understanding, for when they talked it wasn’t of the daily lives of their peers or checkstand-rag gossip it was of causes and effects, of the “why” and “how” of human action.

It was during one of these talks that david discovered an eyelash resting on his hand. It was thick and black, only about a centimeter long, he, being in a state which allowed for prolonged focus on normally unimportant objects, stared at it for a long minute. He noticed a the thick end was pure white, in stark contrast to the rest of its pitch color, he perceived the almost sharpened looking tip at the other end. “Taylor,” he addressed his friend excitedly, “look, I have one wish, I wonder what it should be?”

Taylor suggested, “you should wish for millions of dollars-”

“what would I do with it?”

“I don’t know, maybe buy a house, a nicer car, live comfortably?”

“yes, thats very true, but I live comfortably now; I have an apartment, I have a car, I eat well, I need nothing.”

“That’s true, but this all comes from your parents, and the meager amount they decided to give you, imagine you, driving your ferrari home to your huge house in newport coast,” Taylor argued.

“you’re right that would be absolutely fantastic, the life of a millionaire, but how much should I wish for? What would be enough so I never run out, after having this life I don’t suppose i’d like to stop,” David agreed, finally after much thought, “I was also thinking, what about the people who can’t even eat? I mean I lead a comfortable life-“

“well, I think you’d be comfortable in any situation, you’re you”

“sure, well, no I don’t think I’d like starving to the point of death, which, you know, millions of people do everyday, I could wish that every one lived comfortably and no one was in need,” He said, as he blew the eyelash out the window of his car, sending his altruistic sentiment to all the less fortunate in the world like a letter wishing you well from a relative who’s never taken the time to learn to spell your name.

David, content in his deed, continued his comfortable life, sleeping on a large plush mattress, lounging in a comfortable chair surfing the web and watching television. He’d read articles and keep current on the plight of those less fortunate, explain to others that something needed to be done. He’d tell anyone who’d listen believing whole-heartedly in the changes he was making, but day after day, month after month, he continued to read and hear of new plights and new groups of less fortunates. This was disheartening. After a long and rigorous summer, winter, fall and another summer of late nights out with friends and many speeches on how everyone’s lives could be better if they would just listen to him, his parents grew tired of supporting him.

“You have been living well this past year, but what have you to show from your leisure? You talk of helping others and that’s great, I’ve raised you well, but what have you done to make their lives better? You’re bright and have the capacity and the vision to really make this world a better place but you just go out with your friends and do God knows what every night,” his father explained.

Indignant, david replied, “Well, when I’m with my friends we talk and discover new ways to make these people’s lives better-“

“That very well may be,” his father replied calmly, remembering this very same conversation with his own dear dad, “but how have these conversations affected the world? What can you say you’ve done that has bettered the life of anyone? Telling people how much worse other’s lives are just depresses them, you’re not helping anyone, all you do is blow hot air-“

“But, if the world was a hot air balloon I’d be doing wonders,” david butted in sarcastically, realizing that yes telling people things they don’t want to hear does in fact depress them, “I see what you’re saying dad, but what am I to do?”

“You could go to school and learn I don’t have all the answers, but they might have some.”

This short piece of advice blew david’s mind wide open, had that been what school was for this whole time? To put in effort and attain a desired result?

“Dad, your advice has given me beautiful new insight, I finally see what i have to do!”

So when the time to register for school came around at the end of that summer he talked to counselors who showed him the proper classes to take, which he did, he attended every class and put all the effort he’d previously used so unwisely into his assignments. As his knowledge grew he discovered a brand new world of opportunities to better people’s lives. He continued in this fashion, ravenous and driven, all the way to the white house, where he rivaled the great FDR in his policy.

Reflecting, after his tenure as leader of the free world he looked down at his hand and noticed a small thick follicle, pitch-black, pointed at one end and white on the other, he smiled and shook his hand so that it floated away without a thought.