Pinkie got placed, too, and
we kept in touch for a while. I invited her over after school once because she wanted
to see where I lived. She wandered from room to room and touched everything she saw: books, a stone coaster on the coffee table, an empty vase. Pictures on the mantle. Chazz and Marlene didn't have a lot of stuff, so you actually
could touch it all. And everything they had fascinated Pinkie. She touched each item
with reverence, as if it were as fragile or volatile as she. She took a hand-carved wooden
tribal mask from the wall and gently drew it to her face. She looked around for
a mirror, and I pointed her to the hall.
"Where is this
I knew, because I had asked
the same question my first night here, but I had not taken the mask from the
wall and put it to my face, though I had wanted to.
"Marlene and Chazz got
it in Bali. They went there after college."
Pinkie nodded, as if that
were something she herself had done or might do. She walked back to where the
mask belonged and hung it with care. I had felt the same fascination with this
house and all the evidence in it of a life I had missed, and seeing Pinkie's
expression embarrassed me. I saw on her face and in her movements my own ignorance and naiveté.
I saw what I had looked like to Chazz and Marlene the night they brought me
home. I discovered another facet of this new world and something else I had to hide so that no one would know I didn't belong. It was as easy and automatic for me to put on as any of the other deceits had been. By this time in
my life, I was a pro.
Each November, thousands of people (as of this writing, 238,710) around the world set out to write a novel (50,000 words of story) in 30 days. Today I became one of those people, logging 2,000 words to kick off the party.
To keep me honest and on my toes, I will post an excerpt of each day's work. I am not writing this thing in order, but in scenes, so the story will not necessarily flow from one day to the next, though the blocks themselves I hope will be interesting to read.
Your comments are welcome -- especially words of encouragement -- but may be ignored, so that I don't fall into conversations that could derail my composition.
People are skeptical about this enterprise, and I suspect that most of these novels are not good reads. However, as Robert Kidney of 15 60 75 The Numbers told me, "I don't care if it's good; I care if it's done. If it's done, I can make it good." And, frankly, I'm not worried. There will be something worth posting every day.
You pop a cherry or berry or grape in your mouth, chomp down, and along with the gush of sweetness, feel a wave of must and rot waft into your senses: You taste the wretched and sublime in one breath; you hold perfection and devastation on your tongue; and for one resonant moment you do not choose.
You needed five minutes with your phone so you waited in the car while I ran in for a few things.
I had been waiting for things to get rolling, to be carried away, but you played into every move I made. I had you in check.
He was standing in line to pay. He watched me from my first step in the door—stared, really—so I smiled and said hello. He smiled and watched me walk around him and into the store. When I was past I looked back to see if he was looking anymore, and he was turning away. I went after the olives, peppers, and cornichons I needed for a tapenade.
You found me poring over the oils, and when you touched my lower back I flushed. You asked if I had all I needed and I said almost and grabbed the bottle closest to me. You took my hand. When we arrived at the register you paid. These were the slight gestures you made.
We were talking when we walked away; you were positioned between me and the curb, where he sat on his bike, watching the door. He beamed expectation then—quickly—capitulation. We crossed the street, you and I and, it seemed, his eyes.
He passed us by, gave one more smile—joy, gratification—and that is the one that has followed me all the while.
Kindly reader, you may know that I have other fictional experiments brewing. Namely, the ongoing investigation into how short a story can be without feeling like just a taste of something more. Here are the very short stories I attempted this year; some worked, some not quite. There are typos and false starts; that happens in a lab (and when typing on a phone). To find more such pieces by other writers, follow the #vss tag, and check the links at the bottom of this post.
Visit @jbonze for everything I have ever tweeted, but before you go, please leave your own inspirations and impressions in the comments below.
3-8-12 Lou packed them in but his act fell flat for all but Lyn.
Love is a wrapt audience of one.
3-17-12 You think he will be there when you stumble home late at
night. And he is. Until he isn't.
7-5-12 You begin to see that he will not call. Will not bring
dinner, drape his clothes over the chair. Because you told him not to.
7-5-12 Where one hand slips, another is quick; one face sad, another
glad, when a red ballon lost is caught, then carried away.
7-5-12 Nose sniffs, leg lifts, odor drifts. And on and on and on the
7-6-12 I was going to call. I had phone in hand. I needed air. I
opened the window. And my line to you slipped, fell two stories--crashed.
7-25-12 Rae can't toss Gil yet, she can get a little more from him.
She works him like a flattened toothpaste tube, untold brushes left.
7-29-12 The bird lady drops bread, collects a flock around her. Her
laugh is as squawky as the pigeons' and her hunger just as acute.
7-29-12 In a hot field, after hours of hard labor for low pay, the
worker wonders: Is it wrong to savor one berry--or not to?
7-30-12 One lick, Jo knows. Mine's better, she crows. Lou looks up.
Wants to trade. Jo hesitates, then: OK! Smiles. Bites the rocky road.
8-28-12 He doesn't know where to go: left, right, center, legs. Which
pair to call to? He lies back on the dolly and slides under the car.
9-7-12 I told him the stroller was crap. He called me bourgeois.
Until a wheel fell off, his son tumbled out. In front of the neighbors.
9-7-12 Her mouth is a puckered hole, her hair a habitat. In the
morning she collects old bread. Later in the park she tosses it to pigeons.
9-8-12 He drifts into the 4-way stop--screw pedestrians--then
halts. The short skirt gets the right of way, so he can watch.
9-11-12 They sit on the sidewalk. She is closer to the dog, which
lunges at the baby, who is reaching for a turd. What does she do?
9-15-12 I know you! You're my every fantasy rolled into one. Aren't
you? Call me? Please?
9-18-12 First and last day on the job site: Jak revs the crane. Zigs;
shoulda zagged. Knocks a full john from the 12th floor to the ground.
10-9-12 The tune hits him hard. He circles back, drops a dollar in
the cello case. Buying coffee, he realizes it was a 20. And is glad.
10-27-12 Was the kale unwashed? The carrot too old? Oh, alien
invaders! What did you ride to my insides, now a roiling tide churning all I
12-20-12 The phone rings itself to death. You don't know if I hear it.
I don't know if you meant to call. We may never know.
12-20-12 Funny how night brightens a room. A dash outside to escape
argument allows a secret view: you holding your chin, mulling my move.
12-27-12 A dream to hear your nickname on the PA, then that thing you
texted me--oh no but then: "You left your phone in the spice aisle."
It's not as light as it looks. Not as wispy, fine. Up close it like to jab you, take out an eye. Jimmy said Touch it. He said, You don't make something like that and not want people to touch it. Come on now. I said You touch it. He said I said you touch it. I've got the camera, I'll take your picture. By the time I get over there someone'll come in, then it's too late. I said, See, we're not supposed to touch it.
Jimmy has ideas. Jimmy knows how the world is. He's right: Why would you put those swirly curly colors shining, pointed, smooth, right in people's face if you want everyone to keep hands off?
I wasn't afraid of getting in trouble. I get in trouble all the time for doing stuff Jimmy says. But I don't get in as much trouble as he would if he did it, and when people see me with him they know how it is, they can tell I work for him. There's advantages and disadvantages to everything, Jimmy says, Whether you're the big brother or the little brother, there's pluses and minuses. You're lucky you're cute, Jimmy tells me. People can't stay mad at you long.
I know this is true.
So I stood very still for a second that felt very long. I looked around the room and listened for someone coming, but we were all alone. I looked up to the top of that thing, and it was crazy and beautiful and I wanted to go bigger than Jimmy asked, I wanted to show him how much I knew he was right and I looked back at him to see if the camera was ready and Jimmy was ready and I nodded. I put out my hand and took one of those candy things in my hand and it was so easy I grabbed another. And climbed.
May you come alive in the bracing air, know the promise frozen within the ground, which sleeps until it is time to unfold and blanket your world with violet and gold; and should you pace, trudge, or wander around may you know a friend walks with you somewhere.
The house was supposed to give them space to breathe, room to expand into the family they had talked about becoming. It was supposed to be proof that they were adults, growing into the world they had resisted through their twenties, establish them as responsible and full willing participants in society now.
The house was a small Queen Anne on a quiet street. The front door opened into a hall, the spine off which sat a parlor to the left and a dining room to the right. The hall ran straight to the kitchen, which was large enough for both a table and beyond which was a solarium where they would put small sofa, so that they could do all their living in the back of the house.
Two bedrooms were upstairs. They chose the one in the back, the one with the bathroom in it, the deck, and the view. Guests would use the small room and the bathroom that had been a closet. Until the babies came. Then guests would sleep downstairs, I. the parlor, and they would have to come upstairs to bathe.
Their friends loved the house. From the start they felt ownership too, they sized up the house, looked around and thought about what they would do with the dining room (make it a guest room or office or home gym) and how they would arrange their furniture, if this we were their house. "Will you do curtains or blinds?" they asked, and nodded in agreement with he reply or tipped their heads to the side, trying to understand choices they would never have made if this really were their house. One marveled at the decor and another secretly fumed how the couple was ruining the opportunities for expression presented by this house.
Many dinners we were had at the house. The invitations we were always the same: "Come over to the house!" It took people a while to learn to bring just flowers or chocolate or a nice bottle of wine or olive oil, rather than a significant contribution to the meal. They learned to sit nicely, not stir the pot. They learned to be served, to be guests in the house. They watched the pair become man of the manor and lady of the house; some resented the new roles and others aspired to step into them, in their own house.
The children came in unexpected ways: as nieces and nephews who painstakingly crayoned the wainscoting while in the solarium the wine flowed and loosened the stories, which gave way to tears over someone who was not spending so much time anymore in the house and how could she get pregnant if she was always working--if that's what she was doing after all he had done to get her this house.
They went on that way for a while, chasing each other around and about the house, which is still small, on that quiet street, still holding everything they ever put inside.
On the way back from the Fillmore Farmer's Market today, I spied
and nearly ran over
a busted Master Lock. Even mangled and missing its hook, looking like it had been chewed and spat out by a Master robot, the signature silver lines and blue band identified it from 10 feet away. I felt a tweet coming on.
Because I do not have the technology to snap a pic and email it from my phone, I was unable to photograph the lock where it lay, in the street. So I leaned down from my bike and took it in hand. How heavy! This padlock had put up a fight to keep something secure. But now that thing had become unchained. Free...
The topic of freedom came up last night at Urban Dharma SF, adding another layer to the story.
Here is how it all came together:
About that chain you put around my heart: It's in the middle of Turk Street. I told you to set me free. #vss
Post-posting thoughts: This is more true to the real lyrics than most Covers pieces. Word-wise, I would have preferred "wrapped" to "put," but I was too close on the character count.