Sunday, January 24, 2010

Voyage And Transformations

I was walking down a long wide empty street when I met the first friend. His face would soon be one more among many, and I would lose track of his distinctive features, but on that first meeting his uniqueness would have been clear.
There were leaves flying in the wind all around me, and the sound of children playing in the distance, releasing tiny screams into the air like atomic explosions of enthusiasm. Several little restaurants were open on the street where I was walking and people ate quietly, reading a newspaper, chatting in soft voices, looking out at the world that only sometimes looked back.
I looked straight ahead of me as I walked and suddenly there he was. As much as I knew who he was, within the scheme of my unspoken story, he know who I was as well. We both instantly knew that we would travel far together. It was hardly necessary to exchange any words at all.
From that moment on, our loyalties and our purposes became entrenched with each other. We became a single voyager looking for ways to move through a strange world that we only barely understood. Our movements became so aligned that people would routinely confuse us with each other, even though we hardly looked alike.
We found others, one by one, in little bookstores, in dark alleyways, in old brothels, in desolate rooftops. From two we became three, from three we became four, and from four we became many. When there was as many of us as we needed, and maybe even more, we found a ship and we began to travel. We all knew that we were searching. The object of the search was never spoken but it was known in the way that only things unspoken can ever be known.
This invisible search would take us far away from everything we had ever known. We left behind the wide streets of the cities and the soft spoken people of the bookstores and the cafes. We dived into the great expanse of the open ocean, the endless flat blue surface that offered amazement and death from every cardinal point.
I remember many afternoons of sitting on deck, looking out at the waves, at the far off mountains that stood like lonely sentinels in the middle of blue emptiness, at islands that passed us by like fellow lonely travelers made of brown earth, green trees and shining black stones.
We traveled so long that we forgot ourselves, we forgot our previous existence but we never stopped to identify a new one. We began to notice that things had changed in ways we couldn’t have predicted. We were no longer the same men who left that quiet city that now only lived only in our memories. We were no longer in the same ocean that we had once stared at from the city’s concrete piers. This new ocean now stared at us with eyes of open and unforgiving mystery, it was a restless blue question that never offered an answer.
We had become something strange even to ourselves. Our manner of speaking to each other had changed. Our voices were rougher and louder than we remembered. Our bodies were strong and violent, they had lost the delicateness that had flourished in the languid afternoons of city streets. Our eyes were sharp and piercing, more like hunter animals than human beings. We looked at each other and we could only vaguely accept that we were still the same men that had set out on this great voyage, we could only vaguely accept it and surrender all misgivings before they became so large that they would swallow us like giant waves and bury us under their heavy weight of watery shadows.
It was around this time that I began to realize that this had all happened already, so many years ago that it was only understandable that I would have completely forgotten. It was around this time that I remembered the letter I had written to myself, the letter I was now in the process of writing, the letter that spoke of memories of the future, of things that had happened so long ago that I could only barely glimpse at them as they appeared on the thick manuscript page.
I was writing for myself, under the light of a dying candle, so that I would remember, so that I would recognize, so that I would know that everything I could conceive of as my life was in fact a memory. I had been running through it like bright light through an old film reel. It was all fixed and unmovable like a stone statue or an ancient island or a sphere of rock floating in endless empty space.
And then I saw the island itself, which rose out of the water like a kiss of earthly power on the waiting emptiness of the sky. It was a single peak, a volcano that loomed over our boat as we approached. It was surrounded by deep dark jungle which I could smell even from so many miles away. It smelled of strong life, life that drips hot and humid, life that claws and rips apart whatever stands in front of it, life that waits in dark holes under wet dead leaves.
We dropped anchor close to the island, close enough that we could make out the shape of the long green leaves, but far enough that we could still leave if we decided that it was better for us to do so. We all sat on deck and stared at the tall palm trees, at the thick dark bushes, at the open and untouched white beach. We all looked and looked, trying to spot danger if it waited for us in the green darkness. At last we decided that we could see no movement other than the wind, no life other than the trees, no hunger other than our own.
It was determined that we would disembark and explore the island. It was no longer clear to us what we were looking for there, maybe we were looking only for food, maybe for something more. We had changed so much that even the vague object of our search had been dissolved in the white oil of our own strangeness. Still the decision had been made and we prepared little boats for all of us, five to a boat and there were so many of us.
At the last moment I told them I would stay behind and wait for them. I would keep guard on the boat itself and on the island from a distance. I would look for something that we may have thought was only wind but could be otherwise, something that we may have thought was only trees but which could actually hide evil eyes.
It was agreed that I would stay and so I did. I watched them floating away on those little boats, and they waved at me with open smiles on their faces, their eyes newly washed in the fresh hope of adventure.
I found myself alone for the first time in as long as I could remember. It felt strange, as if I was missing several limbs, as if I had just lost essential elements of my body.
“How would I protect them if I saw danger coming? What would I do if it came for me?”
I read the words on the ancient letter and I nodded, knowing that the question was truthful and knowing that I had no answer, no answer at all. But still I looked towards the beach where the men were now leaving their little boats, and I looked towards the green edge of the jungle where the men were now disappearing one by one into the heavy darkness, and then I simply looked at the island itself which was now as quiet and still as it had been when we all had searched for suspicious movement.
I stood like that for so long that it seemed that nothing else would ever happen. Maybe they would never come back, and maybe the boat would never move from where it now was, and maybe I would never leave this spot where I was standing and maybe I would never know the difference. But just when I was completely convinced that nothing at all would ever happen, something did.
“Strange beings appeared from under the surface of the calm ocean water. They were half men and half fish, and they moved towards the ship where I was standing. Their skin was thick and covered in gills. Their bodies seemed strong like a shark’s and yet flexible like a stingray’s. Just as I had predicted, I could do nothing to stop them. There was nothing I could even try.”
The letter said it, and it happened just as it described. I stood fixed on the deck, unable to respond in any way that was reasonable for I was facing the end of reason, and it was scaling with many wet green hands and feet up the side of our moored ship.
Soon they were next to me, twelve of them altogether. Their eyes were big and shiny and black, and they stared at me and made no move to hurt me or even bother me in any way. Still I wanted them to disappear. It was their very presence that hurt me in ways I couldn’t pinpoint. Their presence burrowed under the skin of my perception and pulled at the exposed tissue of my understanding. I stood like that for hours and still I couldn’t bring myself to reconcile with the utter shock of these beings’ existence.
Eventually many of my fellow voyagers came back. They didn’t come back all once. For reasons that were never explained to me, they had become separated in the perpetual night of the jungle. As they returned, they found me standing on deck, surrounded by these strange creatures that didn’t speak or attack or leave or do anything at all other than exist and stare at us.
The men stared back at them and their eyes grew wide with fear. I realized that my eyes were pouring out the same fear that I now saw clearly in my faithful companions. It wasn’t a fear of violence or pain or even death. It was a much deeper fear that I had thought had disappeared from among us long before we embarked on this strange voyage. Our basic assumptions about the nature of this world we inhabited were in the process of being shattered.
I heard some of them crying, some of them talking quietly, some of them running below deck to hide in their own compartments. Some of them even jumped overboard, refusing to deal any further with the single great question that was now standing on our deck, dripping with green water.
I looked towards the calm ocean surface and I saw more of the strange creatures. They were floating there, staring up at me with their deep black eyes without pupils, eyes that were big and oval and empty. I looked back at them and then at the ones close to me.
We had changed so much, the men and me, and yet there was so much further we could go, so much more to discover. Maybe some of the men would continue with me. Maybe our voyage had only just begun.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Boys And The Path

The sound of twenty small plastic wheels on pavement shook the narrow park path. Like a deep, elongated rumble, the sound traveled like a steady thunder that hid in the cloudless sky. They traveled in a herd this early Sunday afternoon, these five young men, all thin and lean and wearing baggy pants. They moved as they did almost every other day, together, in a pack that shook the earth with their sound. Five skateboards moved in near-unison along a tight curve in the cement path, a bend in the meandering walkway that cut through the city park for miles in each direction, going past small lakes and barely-blooming cherry blossoms and a circular equestrian field. Though the path was mostly dotted with pedestrians, the boys rode it with ferocity, unyielding in their speed. It was their highway, a lane between the bright fields of green grass and low shrubs.
On either side of the path and all around them were couples on picnic blankets and young kids chasing after plastic balls and groups of people in their early twenties lounging beneath the open sky. It was a warm sunny day, an unusual day for a city famous for its fog. And though the people they passed basked in the sunshine, the boys paid no attention to weather. It was jeans, a T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap off to the side in the sun or fog. Their lives were not ruled by the sun like the girls in their neighborhood, the girls that lay out in small bikinis when the sun made an appearance and hid when it didn’t. And they would look at the girls as they rode by, but they had no patience to sit and talk.
Like soldiers they combed the city. Skating alleyways and metal rails and stairs they came across. The people out strolling were merely obstacles. If someone could not hear the roar of their cumulative wheels, then they would shout, and soon the person would feel the impending doom of five skateboards at their back and jump off the path at the last second. Sometimes they would hear a yell fade into the distance as they skated on, someone who had not been quite fast enough, someone had not understood their urgent need for speed.
On this stretch of path, there were no obstacles, no couples holding hands or young teenage girls laughing in a tight cluster. As far as they could see, a long stretch of concrete lay before them, open and inviting. A warm wind rattled the tree tops in the distance, long, tall pines that had grown for years. Twenty wheels rolled on, carrying with them the eagerness of escape, the ecstatic impulses of five young men to explode outwards, moving ever-forward. There was no time for the girls in bikinis and the little daisies they offered. No time to admire the colors of the rainbow they had vaguely heard about. No time to be still.

Friday, January 22, 2010


“Why Bri? Why? Why not see with eye so bright? Be like sister Shar, alright?”
She was talking in rhymes again, fingering dusty doilies and looking all around with her strange mech eyes. Brian himself was trying on old glasses from the 90s and early 2000’s, searching desperately through the wicker basket on the counter for a pair that
would help ease his nearsightedness.
“You know Shar. Leave me alone.” Brian answered.
The old Chinese man behind the counter sympathetically pulled out another basket.
“These ah very good. Made 2010. But more espensive.”
“Oh, that’s great, that’s fine.” Brian said eagerly and tried a pair from the newly proffered shoe box of spectacles.
“Oh, Wi-Bri,” the diminutive dark haired girl moaned afresh, “Shar die, Bri. So shame faced by brother dears mech eye fears. Old biddy buggy eyes for poor slob souls, no trade no currency, no lifes. Why Bri want to look like no life? Why not see Bri? See the world as it is Bri? Real, big vivid bright?” Her vacuous mech pupils widened as she swung her body closer to the counter and looked into the basket of glasses. Brian pointedly ignored her and slipped a pair of specs with hardy black plastic frames onto his face.
“You prefer trade or coins?” Brian asked the old Chinese man.
“You have silver piece?” the old man asked.
Brian nodded and Shar sighed.
“What in trade?”
“Bathhouse tokens or this watch.” Brian showed the man the antique watch on his wrist.
“I also have eggs.”
“Everyone have eggs.” The old man said with a dismissive gesture. “I like take bath. Hot bath?” old man asked.
“Yes.” Brian told him. “With soap and a towel.”
The old man grinned broadly,
“Oh, I take.” He said, holding out his hand.
Brian took the token out of his pocket. It was an old corona bottle cap with a stylized bear stamped into the aluminum.
“Oh. Very nice.” The old man nodded feeling the raised aluminum shape of the bear.
“It’s down by the dock.” Brian told him, “Look for the bear on the sign out front.”


Brian made his way to the bathhouse after depositing Shar in their family home. His father and stepmother were waiting for her there. They were both Mech eyes as well.
“Are you sure you won’t stay for dinner Brian?” the petite woman with black hair streaked with gray asked him.
He found it difficult to look at their faces for too long, their lifeless robotic eyes terrified him.
Brian shook his head and said,
“Thanks Mary Anne, but I should get going before it gets too late.”
His father put an arm around his shoulders and walked him to the door.
“Thank you for taking Shar out with you son. It’s good for her to get out now and then. Nice glasses by the way.”
“Thank you.” Brian said, “And you’re welcome. She did meet some nice people her own age. In a camera shop.”
“Mech eyes?” his father asked.
“Does it matter?” Brian asked, “But of course, they would be mech eyes to have the interest and the silver to spend on camera components. Only mech eyes care about pin hole cameras dad. No Lifes are busy trying to live.”
“You’re not a no life Brian.” His father said
“I know that. Do you? Or are you all shame faced because of bug eyed Wi-Bri?” He hauled himself out from under his father’s arm. “Goodnight Dad.” He said opening the door to let himself out..
“Wait Bri,” his father protested his departure, but didn’t answer the question. Brian paused at the threshold.
“We delivered a number of healthy kids this spring,” his father said at last, “why don’t you take a goat with you?”


Ursula smiled at him when he walked into the bathhouse with the goat trailing behind him on its tether.
“For you, my love.” He said and she began to laugh until tears came out of her eyes, her real lovely human eyes. She stood up and kissed his cheek and took the goat from him.
“Really Brian? Are you giving me this goat?”
“Yes.” He said, and “she’s ready for a milking.”
“Oh, fresh milk!” Ursula gasped with pleasure.
He followed her out the back door and up the steps that led to the roof garden and her hen house. Brian showed her how to milk the goat and then they put it in with the startled chickens.
Back down stairs they admitted an wrinkled old mech eye and drew a warm bath for him. The old fellow wore an ancient pair of goggles to protect his mechanical eyes from the steam and the possibility of rusting.
“I had the cataracts”. The old man told Brian in a quavering voice as he helped him ease into a steaming tub. “I was quite blind before I let them take out my eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long. I had to rely on my son too heavily during all that time, but I couldn’t stand the idea of it. In my time, there was a simple surgery for cataracts, a new lens was put on the eye, my mother had the procedure done by a real eye doctor in just an hour. But so much has been lost. I’m a relic is all. I see fine now, I see all that they said I would. I don’t know as I like seeing all those boogie woogies, but I can take care of myself again.” The old man’s wrinkled body relaxed in the water and he turned his strange silver and copper eyes on Brian, the shutters widening a bit, “I’m surprised that you have your own eyes son. I didn’t know anyone as young as you still did, other than those who are half mad or too sick to do for themselves.”
“Well,” Brian smiled, “There are plenty of people who think that I am mad, because I don’t want the new eyes. The truth is, they frighten me. I don’t want to see all they say that I’ll see.”
The old man nodded,
“I understand that.” He said. “What about your mother? She feels the same way?”
Brian blushed a little. The gentleman was referring to Ursula, his lover, but he made no effort to correct the old codger.
“She’s not like me. She just can’t do it because she bleeds easy, thin blood, some kind of disorder. She’d probably die under the knife. Lucky for her, the eyes she was born with work just fine. And lucky for me too, cause I think they’re lovely.”


“Wi-Bri, come drink with sister Shar and friends.” She invited.
Brian was stunned. Ordinarily Shar preferred if he waited for her at another table, somewhere discreet where she could disavow any familiarity. He never minded the arrangement. He wasn’t sure if he could stand a social encounter with so many Mech Eyes. Those from Shar’s generation were as incomprehensible in their speech as she was.
“Please Wi-Bri?” she pleaded
Soon, standing at the bar with them he regretted, oh so deeply, having agreed. Shar’s new boyfriend, Lexi, was leaning in close, metallic owl eyes swallowing Brian up.
“You must be a good fellow Wi-Bri, no more bringing shame to sharing flower Shar and outstanding family. Lexi’s family not allow marriage with no life in mix, much prestige lost. Now Wi-Bri, we must agree that love most beautiful, most precious, and cheri Shar, most beloved to love struck Lexi, follow Wi-Bri? You must agree, Wi-Bri, to mech eye implants and see the real like Shar and Lexi and let us all be love joined, not lost to silly fears. Wi-Bri must come now with Lexi and Shar and friends to Lexi fathers house for implantation, Lexi father great mech eye maker. With mech eye Wi-Bri and 5 goats, great match made. Lexi Shar forever joined and Wi-Bri see at last.” And here Lexi grinned wide and the others all murmured and nodded in enraptured approval as Lexi clapped Brian on the back.
“Now, let’s all go!” Lexi cried and they began to shuffle Brian out of the Bar, en masse.
“Wait, wait,” Brian objected, “You want me to get mech eye implants right now?”
“Yes, yes,” Lexi said jubilantly, “Right now, together we go all to Mecha, pilgrimage most sanctified, my father’s workshop, Mecha where you will come to see, really.”
“No,” Brian said, “I don’t want them, absolutely not.” But they continued to shuffle him along and suddenly he realized that he must make an antisocial break, one that would surely devastate Shar, if he intended to remain with his eyes intact.
He tried to come to a halt, to push them off of him and step away,
“No!” he bellowed. And they all paused. Then someone jabbed a needle into his arm and he could hear Shar say,
“Shar told Lexi, Wi-Bri a no go embarrassment, make scene, scream and scream.”
“Yes, Shar baby, right, right. No problem though, smart baby Shar, good to bring dream shot. Now Wi-Bri come along, very nice, very quiet.” Now Lexi’s giant copper eyes looked into Brian’s own stunned lid-veiled eyes.
“No worry brother Wi-Bri. When next we meet, Wi-Bri will see, then all will be right. And also, delight Wi-Bri, no cheap aluminum at Mecha, only very best, stainless, steel, silver, copper, very nice. And best of best brother Wi-Bri, you will really see. You will see. When Wi-Bri wakes, he will see.”
Then the world grew dim around the edges and the voices seemed far off and he felt himself drooping and at last, darkness and oblivion settled in.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Curls of smoke lifted and writhed their way to the yellowed ceiling to leave their own contribution to the collected stain. Morgan watched them as though they were spirits, the agonized souls of the girls around her, seated at their lighted mirrors applying lip gloss and gluing on feathery lashes, their spirits dancing around them begging for attention and as always being ignored.
“What’s got into you?”
Darla breathed out a stream of smoke as she asked. It was she that puffed and puffed on the little Virginia slims giving a pale wispy shape to their souls. Her hair was glossy and black, her lips eternally pouty, her voice deep and sultry.
“Nothing.” Morgan answered dismally and Darla snorted and flicked ashes right onto the top of the vanity, disregarding the green glass ash tray all together.
“It’s not nothing babe. Something’s eating you. You’ve been sitting there staring at the ceiling like the blessed virgin was up there having a clam bake.”
“It’s nothing.” Morgan repeated and shook her head to clear the cobwebs, to clear the curls of smoke.
“Mmm,” Darla pursed her lip and snuffed the cigarette out on the table top leaving an ugly burn on the white Formica. She began to peel her lashes off and put them away in a little acrylic container.
“Well that was your last set. You gonna get dressed or are you planning to walk home that way?”
Morgan looked down at her bare leg peaking out of the crack of her silk robe. Her panties and hose were still clamped in a tight fist at her side. She jammed them into her purse, which was sitting on the counter in front of her and she dared to face herself in the mirror. Hurriedly she wiped the make up away and peeled her own lashes off and took the lift out of her hair. She let the robe fall over the chair and reached under the counter for her duffle bag and pulled out the valure sweat suit stored there, a nice anonymous black number. Having slipped into the bottoms and zipped herself into the top, she tied her hair back with a cloth band and sighed at the pile of crumpled green bills still laying out on the vanity top. She grabbed them up and jammed them unceremoniously into her open purse. She was aware of Darla watching her out of the corner of her eye. She grabbed her purse and put it over her shoulder as she stood.
“Hang on.” Darla said putting the last two finishing strokes into her sleek black hair. “I’ll walk out with you.”
Jack escorted the two ladies to their cars, his massive hands poised protectively high in the center of their backs, one lady on each side of him. Hanging around the back corner of the building on the edge, where the light from the lamp faded, a man in a sweaty white T-shirt under a flimsy windbreaker stood with hands in his pockets. One look from big black Jack sent him scurrying off, away from the girls and into the darkness like an oversized roach. When Darla was installed in her blue Toyota and Morgan was unlocking her own car door the Jack of Spades, as they liked to call him, said,
“Good Night Miss Morgan. You take care.” And he smiled warmly. His voice was so velvety soft with brotherly concern that Morgan had to smile genuinely, not one of those fake smiles that she rained on the gentlemen in the club like plastic Mardi Gras beads all night. Then she slipped into the open door of her battered white Nissan and Jack closed the door for her.
Driving home, she took a detour, a long open ended far out of her way detour. It took her through a quiet little neighborhood with yards and bike paths and windows aglow with light. It reminded her somewhat of the tract of houses where she had been raised hundreds of miles away. She could nearly see herself running barefoot through the yards and skipping rope, and later climbing out of back windows and hitchhiking as far out of town as she could get before a state trooper picker her up and brought her back to her mortified parents. At that time, the idea of escape had been all consuming, getting away from the nowhere and the life that her mother lived, that of an uninteresting housewife whom no one thanked or loved. Eventually she had escaped from the suburbs, when she was old enough to drive herself out and make her way to a big old city. And maybe at first she had felt free, before the electricity was shut off and the realization that she couldn’t make rent on waitressing tips set in. Then she had scrambled to find a gig that made better money. Her parents thought that she was employed with a modern dance company in Oakland.
Parked in front of some stranger’s house, the tears began to flow. Watching the ghost of herself playing ballerina in a driveway. This was escape? This was escaping the fate of her mother? Alone in a huge violent mysterious place where only a handful of slobs knew she existed for a few moments when she was under the lights and they were cramming their filthy money into her g-string. The girl in her railed against the bars of her chest, demanding an escape. Demanding to be noticed, to be freed. Morgan choked back the tears and started the engine of her car again. Her headlights swept over the road ahead wavering as she left the ghost ballerina to dance to an empty street, twirling towards the abyss.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Blood

Even before she opened her eyes, she could see the contradiction. The softness of her mother’s hazel eyes that mixed like a winding snake through the stern tone that only slightly dimmed the sparkle in her gaze.
“Elizabeth. It is time to wake from your dreams. Let the colors rest, they will reappear once again when the sky turns dark. Elizabeth, I want you to listen to me. Today is a new day, yesterday on the eve of the solstice you began your first blood. Now is the time of change. It will never again be as it was.”
With sleepy eyes, she looked at her mother, regal in her flowing gown of black and gold satin. Yards and yards of fabric draped from her shoulders. Her large breasts bulged slightly beneath the dress, but those were the only clothes the eye could see. every other inch of her, even her ankles and toes were buried beneath her soft gown. An inch tall golden crown ringed the top of her head and a ruby stud stood like a drop of blood atop each earlobe.
Her mother walked towards her bed from the open arc of the doorway she had stood beneath.
“These are yours now Elizabeth, these are the earrings of blood. The gift your grandmother left to you, the gift you will one day leave to your granddaughter, for the blood is the gift of all women. It is the river of life, the red current that flows from your legs.”
She looked into the eyes of her mother, the eyes which were so soft and green, the eyes that smiled at her with the ever-flowing love of a glimmering waterfall. But there was something else, perhaps a sadness, something that Elizabeth had never seen, a sort of pain that leaked from the deepest cracks and fell into her open eyes. She looked from her mother’s eyes to her open hand. In it were two ruby stud earrings, the same as her mother now wore. A lone red stone on a simple gold pin. Red the color of blood, of fresh cut life.
“Wear them,” her mother said. “They are a symbol of what you now carry, of what you can now do, of the power you now have. They are the symbols of a new time. You are new, not as you once were. You are different and the court will now see you as such. Your dolls must be put away, today, all the things of your girlhood will go, you are now an empress.”
The words stung and prickled the place between her own growing breasts, she looked up and saw the weight of them in her mother’s eyes, then she looked around the room.
It was a girl’s chamber, the only place in the entire walled compound that was entirely her own. Pink curtains hung from the series of tall glass windows that overlooked a green countryside. In the corners of her room were the mountains of stuffed animals she still played with and occasionally cuddled at night. There was her collection of dolls on the wooden shelves. Her eyes scanned the room until they settled on the dress hanging over the back of a chair. Her mother looked at her, then to the chair with the pink velvet dress draped over it.
“The dress will have to go too.”
She turned to look at her mother, turning her head more slowly than she ever had.
“No,” she said in a careful tone, “please, not the party dress. It’s the only thing I want. You can take everything else, just please, do not take it away.”
There was absolute pleading in her eyes. A desperation in which her mother would never be able to forget. And though her heart hurt, she pulled the words out.
“It’s a symbol of your girlhood, Elizabeth. How will you be an empress, how will you learn to rule if you cannot separate yourself from the things of girlhood?”
“I’ll be able to do everything, as you have told me before, much of what we do comes from the inside, not from what we wear.”
“It is both Elizabeth. It is how others see us, as well as how we see ourselves. As you begin this new path, there cannot be any confusion within you. You must be clear of your purpose. The dress might only confuse you. You are now a woman and an empress.”
They both turned to the dress, a mess of pink fabric and layer upon layer of a lacy white petticoat. Her mother spoke without turning her head.
“Your first blood has come Elizabeth. It is time for you to understand the change as deeply as the rest of us understand it. The dress is of your girlhood, as are the toys. This is a new phase, the true change will come from within you, you must understand it and come willingly to your destiny.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Akio In The Park

The park bench was a mottled thing of orange and white and brown; paint jobs from different eras showing themselves unabashedly in a speckled milieu. Akio slouched on the bench, the uneaten portion of his sandwich wrapped in yellow wax paper resting beside him. He watched the duck who was almost as mottled as the bench and wore a strange red mask over his face like a super hero. It waddled about, turning its head from side to side to blink out of one eye or another, hoping for a crumb.
Akio reached for his orange flavored soda and took a swig from the glass bottle letting the carbonation tickle and burn his throat on the way down. He liked the park, this particular park, so many miles from home that he had to take a train and then hike to it in order to enjoy its charms. The great distance made his visits infrequent and enhanced its allure. Vaguely Akio could remember his grandfather bringing him to this park. The very small boy had held the old man’s soft wrinkled hand and had stared nearly eye to eye at one of those masked ducks.
“Akio,” the old man had said, “This is the most magical park in all of Japan.” The boy had looked around in awe. “I met your grandmother here. In some ways, this park is the reason that you exist.”
Saying this, his grandfather had squeezed his hand and smiled at him and Akio had felt then, more than on any birthday, that his life was a gift, that both he and Grandfather were so lucky that there was an Akio, that without the park there could easily have been no Akio.
He watched with great dismay as a young woman, far off, peered at the sky and opened an umbrella.
“What a stupid girl.” He said to the duck, because, of course, it must not rain today. He had come so far to be here, sitting on this bench, speaking to this duck, watching with some anxiety that girl out there.
Looking at the sky, he agreed that it might rain sometime today, later when he was taking the train home, but not now. The sandwich should be finished, the soda bottle with its graceful long neck emptied, and the path through the trees walked slowly with relish.
Even as he thought these things he felt the first drop hit the bare skin of the back of his arm. Then another plopped rudely down on the wax paper covering the sandwich. The duck turned one eye on Akio and three more drops speckled the concrete between them. Akio sighed. Then as the rain began to fall with greater speed and a more consistent rhythm, he scooped up the sandwich and bottle and deposited them into his back pack.
The girl with the umbrella was hurrying along the path leading down hill. Perhaps she too was heading for the train and perhaps she wouldn’t mind sharing her umbrella. Using the bag to shield his head from the onslaught of water, he took one last look at the bench where he had intended to spend his afternoon, then bidding the duck farewell, he ran after the girl huddled under her big black umbrella.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Closing The Door

The house was always bathed in a yellowish hue, but this couldn’t be blamed on the light bulbs. It was the inhabitants of the chamber, the vermin clothed as humans, the sticky sludge that resembled normalcy, the fluttering shadows that projected life, they were the ones that gave the house its distinctive yellow shade.
The two inhabitants looked like a couple. One acted like a pretty girl with school books and thin tank tops. The other one seemed like a skinny guy wearing an oversized suit. That is what they were but they were also something else.
She tried to conceal it in the corners of her heart, in the caves where secrets hid and rested, where they spinned their wool and catched blood-filled mosquitoes with eyes that had long ago been sewn shut. She tried to hide it all away, but blood always found its way out under the door.
The gray cloud above her head darkened her perspective. The steel ball shackled to her ankle ate away at her voice and jingled with each step that she took on the pavement. The pain was written on her face.
The disease dressed itself up in purple spots and lay quietly on his skin. The house smelled of vinegar and burnt tin foil and the books absorbed the smoke like the thick leaves of a jungle.
It was just a thin string that kept her from going insane, an invisible thread that tied her to the world she once thought of as unique, as solid and real. She could only escape from her secret knowledge when sleep overcame her and sent her off into lands unknown. Then she could forget about her present troubles.
But at the moment, she was wide awake.
She could not describe the nature of the impulse that pulled at her will like invisible strings raising a wooden puppet. She couldn’t speak about it clearly, but she knew that she smoked from the hands of red demons. Disguised as the glass vase for plastic roses, hidden in the product of water and fire and metal and coca leaves that combined into a surge of power, there was a brief full body orgasm that could instantly color her green and leave her wailing without tears, hungry with no need for food.
She smoked from the bumpy skin. She heard the bells of their choir and sat still while the earth spun and her stomach took a ride on the roller coaster that always ended twenty seconds later. Then she stood in line once again. She called for the conductor, she looked for the tubes and the white rocks and the dirty spoons. And again she took the ride.
And when it was over, when she was on her knees and drooling and looking for the foil, she took it again. The same rusty car, the same plastic seat, the same eternal loops that held her with hard plastic handcuffs.
Now there was concrete and tar and little else. She wished to move in the warm contours of soil and sand that now only lived in brief dreams of nearly forgotten chambers. She dreamed of woolen rugs and tapered yellow candles, crushed slivery leaves and stone bowls of water. But this was concrete, hard and unmoving. And there was no easy way to escape.
She followed her body into the yellow room and found the spoons and the powder and the carton of baking soda. She wanted to make rocks from powder and hear the choir and shake with the bells. She tried ‘til 4am until the small bag was empty and every ill-cooked rock had traveled in wisps of smoke into her lungs.
She called for more in the shower and spun as the water drenched her naked body. Later, she sat on the patio, surrounded by dying plants and a created world that made no sense anymore, under the night sky that felt more ugly and brown than she had ever seen it.
She sat and heard the bells. That’s when she decided to go out.

Now she stood at the corner, indecisive about the direction she should go in: south, north, east…Did they all lead to the same place?
The streets ahead were gray slate and drab and littered with old sandwich wrappers and discarded paper cups. The printed slogans drifted away on the wind, forgotten like the half eaten French fries. The gutters were a collage, a temporary museum to the unwitting Mexican artist that had unknowingly constructed it. The dark roads were long, each one of them marked by sign postings and shiny buildings that reached to the heavens in false praise.
Clouds dispersed in the wake of their unmoving weight. The clouds moved slowly. It seemed to her that they moved without care, without emotion. Their form merely shifted and scattered by the merciless force of the wind.
A sharp edge played with the tension in her back. It applied to her inner radio the mute song of a 90 degree angle. It talked in the only way it could.
She still gazed in the four directions. A bus bearing a hundred Asian immigrants passed by her, rustling her hair. Taxi cabs passed by as well, one after the other. They were only blurred colors and shapes. She saw them as unsentimental players in a hidden drama that was just a few steps beyond her. They came and went on command, the drivers, their cars, the lights. She wished she could swim with them, a sparkling fish in their school. But she felt distant from it all, she felt like she didn’t belong where she had once been and she didn’t belong where she was. She simply didn’t belong anywhere.
She reacted with a grimace when a tall woman in a nice dress passed by talking on a cell phone. She smiled at a short Mexican worker selling strawberries in the corner. Acting on pure impulse, she drifted like a kite caught in the clutches of a silent hurricane.
She knew that she was walking right to the edge between pure realization and final death. Then came an elongated honking horn, the stretched out music of a car in flight. It flew towards her, found itself caught up in the coils of her intensities, pulsing with the cold movement of her secret mechanical life.
You are here, she heard in the distance. The cries of bats and ocean waves crept in, the screech of old brakes and country songs curled together like strands of DNA. Distortion like nothing she had ever heard before. Teetering, she allowed the weight of the building to hold her.
A large metal door was half open. There was noise coming from inside. Inside was outside, and there was no safety anywhere, so she followed herself into the open doorway, squinting at the darkness that enveloped her.

A college-aged boy in a white T-shirt and jeans stood in front of a crowded room. His round Asian face looked towards the white pull-down screen in the center of the warehouse wall. An unused microphone rested in his left hand. The room was dim, the only light source came from the projection itself, which was a picture of the same boy, in another place, another time.
She leaned against the wall looking up, looking at him looking at himself. In his flat calm face, she could also see the contours of her own. She wanted to see it and it was there.
The boy in the photo was in a light filled greenhouse. His hard city mask had fallen and he beamed into the camera, holding a red ripe tomato in each hand. In the dark room the boy looked at a boy that was lost in the past. He could not recognize himself. The face that appeared to be his own was that of a stranger.
The boy in the room had been overtaken by death. He stared with eyes blinking. He looked, searching, searching for the self he now knew.
The projected photograph was a sudden flash…something used to be different. For a moment, maybe as quick as the snap of the shutter, he was different, he had been different. He smiled because of tomatoes. His fingers were dirty and his car was useless and all his friends and family were miles away. He was no one to the soil, no one to the trees. But he coaxed life from a seed. And life was given. Birth happened, and the tomatoes were proof.
The photo which he stared at now with strange curiosity, was a reminder of another life, one that faded the moment he left the greenhouse.
A tarot card drifted to the floor. She saw it but the boy didn’t see it, he didn’t feel its subtle wind. It lay face up. A skeleton in armor trampled everything underneath him with the strength of his horse. The flag of death waved in the red sky. A fallen king was lying next to his forgotten gold crown, two children wept at the feet of the white stallion.
The boy with the microphone did not see the fluttering death flag beside his own head. The boy could not recognize himself. But she recognized herself in his projected picture.
The stench of her physical death would take years, but this was just as foreign. It was like looking at her own corpse, the remains of what once was. She had been like the boy in the picture. She could still remember.
Her wide open eyes looked at the being that was left behind. The being had been forgotten, flowering just for a moment. Open and light-filled and caught forever. Caught for a moment that would always exist.
Death came uninvited.
Death came when she began to think, when she began to be “herself.”
Death happened.
A moment of sudden life had exploded out of the rotting experience of a machine, and that moment lived on in the photo. It lived in this dim room, lived in the one moment when she allowed herself to watch. It was the reminder that flowers can bloom in the mud, that a burst of lighting can cause a fire.
There were no words for her sudden realization. No words that could describe the bliss of creativity and birth. Nothing could explain the smile and the love of two tomatoes and the energy of a being spilling forth.
She recognized herself where the boy did not.

It was almost dawn when she looked in the mirror and saw a strange woman from a bleak distant land. A woman in the clutches of a force she had no language for. A stranger from a parallel world, a whore, a student, a woman…all could be possible, all were placed before her for the choosing, like doors leading in very different directions. There was some of each resulting character in her eyes.
The bumpy hands were tight around her ankles, the choir sang without rest. That is when she decided that this would not be her path. She would not surrender to the demons that tried to pull her down. She closed the door and sealed it shut.
She felt them call for many days. The invisible creatures kissed her ears and played in the corners of her mind. She buried herself in books, she buried herself in the open sunlight, she buried herself in a burrowed memory of a boy she would never meet. Working this way, she washed herself clean of the powder. And the call of the demons dimmed so much as to resemble silence. And the silence was just the sound of cars and of old friends who would forever forget to call.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Chariot And The Wheel Of Fortune

The desert landscape stretched out on either side of the black tongue of road in expanses of flat tan earth and distant purple peaks interrupted by the occasional sequoia. The old Dodge Dart rumbled along that line, a streak of pale banana yellow with chrome fenders and black wheels and white letters spinning so that they were a white line racing around and around on the surface of dark rubber.
Inside it was difficult to hear the radio over the roar of the air outside engulfing and rattling the old vehicle as it sped along. It was now picking up mostly static anyway. With one hand on the wheel, Daniel reached for the silver knob of the radio tuner, a burning cigarette poised between his index and middle finger so that he manipulated the dial between his thumb and ring finger. More static rose, some talk, then he tried the AM and at last clicked it off.
The wind roared in through the open window and he put the cigarette in his mouth and inhaled and switched hands so that he could let one arm rest on the open window and the other could cling to the wheel. His black hair rose in a wave at the crown of his head, rippling in the chaotic current of air. A green rectangle appeared on the right shoulder and grew in size as he approached it. It informed him in neat white letters that Phoenix was 250 miles away.
The sun was beginning to descend behind those distant peaks leaving a purple and orange band in the sky. He estimated that in another three or four hours he would arrive. And then what? Well he would get a room, of course, and then dial the most precious number in the little black book residing in the back pocket of his blue jeans. Or maybe he’d just find his way straight to the address that was written in wavering blue ink under the phone number, all of which was scrawled under the name “Sue” on the first page marked by the tab labeled “Q, R, S”. He would park against the curb in front of a house with a lawn of white quartz rock glittering under the moonlight and make his way up the Astroturf carpeted front walk. With the hand that was now on the steering wheel, he would then rap on the door and there would be shuffling inside and the sound of muffled voices as her grandparents wondered who it could be. Then the door would open a crack and blue eyes would peer out and widen in disbelief and the door would be opened wider and Sue would cry,
“Daniel!” and then she would at last know that he loved her because he had crossed the Mojave to find her.
As the desert air cooled he took a last drag off the cigarette and dropped the glowing butt out the window so that it hit the asphalt and showered tiny red sparks into the darkness.
The sun finally disappeared entirely and purple night wrapped itself around the lone vehicle cruising over the endless road. Now he turned on the headlights and they illuminated only the small patch of highway ahead of him. Chilled by the impending desert night, Daniel rolled the window up, and it was then, just as it closed, that there was a tremendous POP! And a thunka, thunka, thunka, and he had to grab the wheel with both hands to maintain control of the Dart and pull it over onto the dusty shoulder of the road.
He sat quietly with both hands on the steering wheel after the engine had been turned off. The silence cloaked him under the emergent twinkling of stars and deepening of night. The full knowledge that the spare tire wasn’t there crept over him and he continued to sit still feeling the vision of Susan fade away to be replaced by a small nagging creature; a little thing that was formless and faceless and caused goose bumps to form on his forearms. A thing called dread. Dread, bathed in isolation and the splendor of an awakening black night.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Storm

“Just hold me as long as you can.” She said it quietly, almost in a whisper, but they were pressed so close together that it sounded as heavy as it always did, still containing all the layers of variance he had traveled through for many years, examining the layers of warmth and breathless desire that seeped through her throat and tongue, finding his ear an open vessel for her inner lights.
Any sound in response was lost to the rattling wind outside, but she felt a slight movement in his head and a tightening of his arms around her. She responded, nudging into him as though the skin alone was no barrier.
They were two naked bodies, laying on a simple mattress. There were no sheets or pillows, nothing but the plain silver-blue of the mattress below them. She felt him breathing against her, warm breath against the cold of her neck. His breath was a fire lit in intervals, coming quickly every few seconds, warming her just as quickly as it began to fade in the cold darkness of their cabin. Her arms clung to him as never before.
Never had she wanted to be closer, to break the division of skin and merge finally into a single being. She clutched him as hard as she could, her chest rising and falling in a mad race to capture all the oxygen she could, to pull it into her, to steal it from every corner of the room and hidden crevice of the mattress, soon there would be no more.
A violent storm lashed against their metal boat. The wind knocked against their little world with force she had never known. This was a storm of myths, so grand in its fury that her mind searched for an explanation, a reason that waves could rise so high. The boat rose up and down on the black waves, riding them as long as fate would allow.
There was nothing to do but lay on the silver-blue mattress, to lay and wait as calmly as they could. The elements would do what they would, they were just drifters, untimely drifters on the waves that would eventually pull them down.
Everything on the little boat had broken. The sails had been torn to rags by the wind. The navigational system collapsed hours before in a final deafening buzz that signaled the end of their escape. Their only other crew member had fallen over the edge, he was somewhere, floating in the deep blue sea. They were minutes away from joining him and in their last few minutes, they did what was natural, what was as unscripted as rising waves and howling wind.
They got as close as they could, pushing themselves as close as their bones and flesh would allow. They had not planned on this, had not planned for it to end so soon, but just like the waves, they knew most things moved without a clock. Nothing came on time, and on the sea, there was only the will of nature, the grand force without emotion and planning.
The sea had no feeling, no cause for rage, no motive that could ease their hearts. It simply moved. It rose and fell as it was pushed by wind and heat and pressure. It moved with force, but it was not punishment, there was no conclusion to derive, though her mind searched for a just cause. It was them who had gotten caught within the criss-crossing of swirling changes. It was them who would soon come down, their bodies that would soon crumble and meet the cold waves.
“Just hold me as long as you can,” she repeated, pulling herself into him.
“I will.”
The boat lifted momentarily, then crashed into the unforgiving wall of water. She imagined it black outside. The sea and water matching in shade. She smelled the salt of his skin and put her attention on the coldness of his body. They held each other, riding the waves. Time felt short, but maybe it was as short as it had ever been, each breath a simple, sustained lifetime. It was alive, and each new second was a tragic gift.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Can See Her Now

I can see her now
Stretching for miles
while dancing
lonely in the moonlight,
White long dress
and black flowing hair
Trailing behind her
like the tail of a comet,
Feet gliding over the asphalt
Of a dark empty street,
Touched by rain and wind
Cradled in the warm embrace
The invisible arms
of the endless black night.

I can see her now
Out of the corner of my eye
Eating the remains of the dead
While others gorge on hope,
On dreams of what could be
Of what could someday happen.
I can see her
Laughing at their pain
At their painful smiles
And their cackling cries
Big belly bouncing up and down
Rolls of thick flesh
making waves of pasty skin
Waves that begin everywhere
And end nowhere.

I can see her now
Even if I turn away
Her smile is ever present,
Her eyes have the knowing gaze
Of the one that knows
How it all turns out
In the end.
I can see her now
But I wish I could forget her
And then be reminded
In a sudden flash of lightning
As the Real meets my Illusion
And all fantasies come to an end.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The New World Of Sticks

The sun shines down on the little garden, bathing it in a strong heat that would bring small buds to bloom. The narrow rectangular yard is enclosed by a tall wooden fence and stuffed with young gardenia trees and a hedge of rosemary and lavender. It is a garden for smelling above all else, the shrubbery was planted with the nose in mind and not the eyes. Jasmine covers the back fence, transforming the wooden planks of the border into a wall of green and white speckles.
Beneath the lavender blooms, nearly hidden from sight below the thicket of pale green and purple is a young girl. Her bare feet are caked in dust, creating the look of a pale brown shoe that is corrected only by looking at the small toes tipped in pink nail polish. She squats close to the ground and her long brown braided hair sweeps along the soil like the tender caress of a broom.
The girl does not notice her hair, tipped with the earth’s dust, nor the shoes of soil she wears, all her attention is on the ground before her. She has arranged a series of vertical sticks in a circle and some tender green leaves from the jasmine bush have been impaled on thin twigs, creating flags for her city beneath the lavender canopy.
She has been in the same spot for hours, missing the lunch of macaroni and cheese her mother prepared and also the visit from her friend Dave from next door. She didn’t hear them calling or feel the pangs of hunger. Nothing distracted her from creation. She created a world, and she could feel nothing but the rush of excitement as the small city of wood and leaves came together.
She sits still, adding the last touches of thin sticks and then places one solitary lavender stem in the center of the city-circle. The metal latch of the back gate slams closes and she looks up. Through the fragrant stems she sees her brother walking along the back side of the house, approaching the door that leads to his bedroom in the converted garage.
“Sean!!” she cries excitedly. She jumps up, her pigtails gathering a few yellowed leafs as she runs through a hedge of geraniums. “Sean, come look at what I made. It’s a whole city. A whole world!”
He looks at her, at the little girl whose feet are covered in dirt, this little girl that smells of salt and sun and flowers. She’s running towards him, about to grab onto him as she always has.
“Mattie! Stop! You’re all dirty and I’m on my way somewhere. Don’t get me dirty, I don’t have time to change.”
“Sean! Come look at what I made,” she squeals excitedly, not hearing him.
“Don’t get me dirty Mattie, I’ll come look, but don’t get me all dirty.”
“Okay” she says, slowing down and turning in the direction of the lavender bush, “It’s this way. It’s in here.”
Sean walks towards the bushes and comes to the edge where the purple stalks become a wall. Mattie steps into the narrow path she has created among the lavender. She turns to him, “you have to come in to see it.”
Sean rolls his eyes. “Mattie, I told you…I can’t go in there, I’m going to get all messed up, I’m on my way somewhere. I’m going to get covered in that stuff.”
“Please, it’s so cool. I don’t want anyone to see it but you, it’s a whole world. It’s such a special place.”
“Look, I can’t get in there now, but I’ll look at it later, okay?”
She looks at him, wearing his clean jeans and crisp black blazer. He looks nice, and she wonders who he is going to see.
“Okay, you look nice. I guess you shouldn’t get all dirty, it’s just a little world. Maybe you can see it tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I’ll check it out tomorrow. I gotta go grab my stuff and leave now, okay?”
She nods and then Sean turns and walks towards his bedroom door. She takes another five steps and then kneels, her hair sweeping the soil once more. She takes a deep breath, then starts to breathe into the circle of the new world. Her breath becomes a slight wind and all the flags of leaves begin to flutter.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Taste

It had been a month since he had them in his mouth. 30 days exactly. A flip of the calendar, another one lost to time. Lost to the darkness of the sparkling, a spinning orb moving through a sun-filled sky. One month since his entire world understanding had been flipped on its head for six hours. It was a bitter taste, but not something he couldn’t deal with. Just chew, let it do what it does. Lay back and let it come.
If anyone were to have looked in his window, if they had been hiding in the darkness of the garden, stepping on the bed of red geraniums that would have been colorless at night, they would have seen a teenager on a bed in a messy room. Just a normal adolescent, some books on the ground, CDs all over the floor, a few empty soda cans littering the ground beside a full metal trashcan that was overflowing with other drained cans and crumpled pieces of paper from a poem he could never quite get right. There was a black and white poster of Jimi Hendrix over his bed, staring straight into the camera in a moment of vulnerable strength.
For six hours that night, he was a teenager on a bed, at least his body was there, above a thick woolen comforter, his head resting on a plump pillow. His body was in the midst of adolescence, but he traveled that night, beyond the place were age is a number with arbitrary limitations placed upon it. What he had placed on his tongue that night took him away from high school and the small bedroom next to the garage. It took him to the other world, a place among many others that existed outside the realm of earth and the place of the human.
Soon after his teeth started grinding and his tongue lubricated and his throat swallowed, very soon after his body became a simple material which was absorbed quickly into the mattress. The mattress became the floor, the ground became soil and dirt and the earth itself melted onto a seamless black sky that held the sparkling possibility of tunnels in all directions.
He was there, travelling through a small space, he was there, floating in open black nothingness. He was everywhere, he was everything and everyone and there was no body or bed or existence. The cross hanging above his door became a simple shape made of wood, holding no meaning, no significance, just two pieces of wood, set at an angle. It was a pretty shape. A very pretty, simple shape.
For six hours he was nothing, nothing and everything and he kissed it all and gave himself to the black sky and the open sun that waited and laughed, hiding its secrets with bursting flames. He lay for six hours until his mother popped her head into his room to offer him a sandwich for dinner. She found a motionless boy on a bed, her boy, motionless, barely breathing. At the time he did not understand what was happening, he could not, for people and words had lost their significance and meaning, and his mother was just a moving shape that cried out in large, booming sounds.
When the six hours of nothingness slowly seeped away with time and when he began to emerge once again into the world of perceived substance and roles and rules, he found that no one was happy. He saw gloomy worried faces and the eyes of steel on men he had never seen. Later he pieced the events together through the various accounts of different family members and next door neighbors.
His mother, fearing he had been in a coma, had called 911. The police arrived in tandem with the paramedics and quickly understood what had been on his tongue. It didn’t matter to them that he had tasted the world as never before, that self had dissolved and each atom looked no different than the next. He wished he could have described it to them, but they were cold stares and metal and bits of flesh that could be called human, but there was no warmth, no blood for them to give him and nothing that he could recognize and take with open hands.
The people he had known his entire life, the things they had taught him, everything they said he would be, he saw it as it was, simple nothingness puffed up in a make believe world, they were shapes that had been given meaning, but they were only lines and patterns. But he could not tell them, they were metal and steel. They were rules. They were vengeance. Justice for them was synonymous with punishment and he knew there would be consequences for the nothingness he had been.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Emperor And The Moon

Sara bent over the bucket of foaming suds and dipped the over sized sponge into the warm wetness. As she did so, the daisy dukes tightened and strained around her apple shaped ass. Her father, who had just come outside, blushed at the site of his 15 year old daughter’s figure poised so accidentally alluring. Immediately, a wall of words was raised between his forward consciousness, the “I” that he presented to the world, and the desire that had surged in the darkness of his heart and loins.
“Sara, telephone.” He called gruffly from behind his black beard and she started at the sound of his voice, then smiled and dropped the sponge into the bucket and hurried up the driveway. Her youthful breasts bobbed under the thin tank top as she lopped over to him, sandals click clacking on the concrete. He noticed that the white straps of her cotton bra were exposed over her bare shoulders.
“Who is it?” she asked breathily, chest heaving gently from the mild exertion.
“Somebody named AJ.” He told her, his voice still bear-like. Something in the tone made her feel guilty, although there was no spoken rule that had been broken. She reached for the phone, but he withheld it and said,
“You need to get inside and put something on. Those shorts are way too short.” The tone was accusing.
“All of my shorts are like these.” She protested in bewilderment.
“Well,” he said wagging his head, “You need to get in here and figure something out, because those are totally inappropriate.” And then he relinquished the phone and turning his back on her, he stomped back inside.
Sara clutched the phone in her hand and fought back hot tears. Guilt and rage and sorrow welled up in her chest and constricted her throat. Her mind howled with questions that danced around a central point: regret for having earned his disapproval. The intelligence in her struggled with the emotional storm of self loathing, reasoning that she had not done anything wrong, she was not trying to be “inappropriate”, which she knew really meant “sexual”, that others were defiling her with their inappropriate response to the sight of, what? Her bare legs? The parts of her body left exposed for comfort in the summer heat while she washed her father’s car?
The great excitement that had fluttered briefly through her belly upon hearing that a boy was calling for her had transformed entirely into a lead weight. This boy calling her also confirmed for her father her “inapropriatness”. Her overactive mind wrestling with her turbulent emotions churned out a suspicion that now that she had become the subject of this “inappropriate” attention. Her father no longer loved her and this in turn became a rage directed at herself, at her own body. At last she sniffed a constricted,
“Hello?” into the receiver.