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November 21, 2007

In the beginning

           When I was in kindergarten I had already started down the road of laziness and shirked duty that would later prove so fatal when it came to writing papers. However, being so young and unaccustomed to the trickery necessary to obtain my desired freedom from all work, I was unable to figure out a fool-proof way to get out scot-free. Then, once the means fell into my hands, shown to me accidentally by a guileless peer, I lacked the foresight to use them properly, and what could have been my salvation from scholastic drudgery became a curse that would haunt me for all of my lower educational years.

           This guileless peer, named Adam, because I cannot remember his real name (for who cares to remember the innocent?), and cannot think of a more fitting name, since all I know of him is that he was, in fact, a boy, showed me the means, as I say, by accident. On a Monday a couple months after my involuntary interment at Franklin Elementary, and after the new school clothes that had bought my silence had long since become plain and worn, everyday clothes, Adam developed a stomach ache. Our lovely teacher, who was young and silly and really did think she cared for us, as most young, silly kindergarten teachers are wont to fool themselves, sent Adam to the office. I noted his departure, and, keeping a watch on the clock (because I had already learned at what time we would be set free, and often checked it against the actual time, in vain hopes of freedom), noted also that he never returned. Intrigued, I questioned my teacher.

           “Where did Adam go?” I asked.

           “To the office, because he had a stomach ache.”

           “But how come he isn’t back?” I continued, digging further into the issue at hand.

           “His mother came and picked him up, since he was sick,” said my clueless young teacher.

           I was not expecting this answer, and partly because of my surprise, and partly because even then I possessed a small bit of wisdom, I waited and did not complain of a stomach ache until midmorning the next day. I was sent to the office, as expected, and taken home, as expected. That was Tuesday. At the same time on Wednesday, I once again complained of a stomach ache, and on Thursday, and on Friday as well. Sadly, my mother was not quite so young and inexperienced as my kindergarten teacher, because when the office called her on Friday morning she told them to send me straight back to my class, as I was only pretending. At which point I was forced to return to kindergarten and listen to boring stories and play boring games until my mother came and picked me up.

           I would like to be able to say that despite being rather wise and experienced, my mother was also the forgive-and-forget type. Sadly, that is not, and was never, the case. From that day on, my mother looked upon my every sickness with suspicion, and it became harder and harder for me to fool her into letting me stay home. In fact, more often than not I had to display multiple symptoms of an illness before a reprieve from scholastic endeavors was permitted. I cannot count how often the following scenario unfolded:

           “Mom, I feel sick and I have a fever and a cough,” I would complain, and then obligingly cough, to make good on my claims.

           “Well, then,” my mother would say, “I’d better call the doctor right away.”

           “Oh… oh, don’t do that. I just wanted you to know. I still want to go to school today.”

           “If you insist,” my mother would say, nodding sagely.

           I knew she was never fooled for a minute, but I also knew that if I did go to the doctor’s, he would declare nothing was wrong with me and my mother would drop me off at school before I could say “must’ve been allergies.” And Mom would be mad, too, because I’d have interrupted her plans for the day. So, all-in-all, it was better to keep up appearances than to openly admit I’d been outmaneuvered. Furthermore, it made her think twice those times when I actually submitted myself to a trip to the doctor’s. Sometimes she’d even let me stay at home after the doctor’d told her I was perfectly healthy, just because I’d thought myself sick enough to visit the doctors.

           Of course, as I said, this became my curse. There were times when I truly felt horrible, and my mother would have none of it. Times when, with a verified fever of 99.9° F, she’d drop me off in front of the school with the parting words “tough luck.” Yes, my lack of cunning and foresight, in the form of blatant misuse of the system, in kindergarten ruined forever my chances at proper ditching. I was plagued from them onward with sick days spent at school, and, on the occasional day I either actually fooled my mother, or when she was just too tired of it and gave up the fight, with an annoying, nagging sense of guilt. There are many things if my life I’d change, if I had the chance, but this one sits foremost on the list; if I could say any one thing to my past self, at any time, I would choose the day Adam got sick, and I would tell myself “A little bit of cunning, mixed with subtlety and forbearance, goes a long way.”

October 31, 2007

Lord Dashleberry the Third

         Lord Frederic Dashleberry the Third walked into the living room quietly, as a tiger, stalking its prey. His only half-buttoned shirt caressed his strong, muscular chest in the light wind from the open windows across the room, and he noted the curtains waving fitfully in the wind, the light slipping past the curtains when it could to touch the keys of an old grand piano. The scene, the effect of wind and light, was perfect. Before him, turned slightly to face the piano, was an armchair. And there! Resting on the doily clothed side table beside the chair, a lily white hand! His heart beat a sarabande rhythm in his chest, his eyes excitedly taking in the youth, the beauty of the petite hand. His breathing quickened, became louder, and even his half-buttoned shirt seemed to stroke his chest more rapidly. His eyes were drawn briefly to the floor where he noticed an overturned tea cup, its contents spilled on the rich carpet, and he smiled knowingly. At last! He rushed forward to stand between the armchair and the windows, staring down with a fiery intensity at the young woman resting in the chair. He felt excitement building in his body, pushing him to a dangerous breaking point.

         “I knew I would find you here,” he rasped, struggling to keep control of himself. He took a few labored breathes before he continued. “Oh,” he said with a moan, “how I long to take you into my arms, to hold you close to me!”

         “But that would be a disruption, if not misuse, of evidence,” his sexy female assistant, Lorietta Loveswich, reminded him sternly from the door with an annoyed toss of her strawberry blonde curls, “and we won’t last another inquiry!”

         “Yes, yes, I know,” said Lord Frederic Dashleberry the Third impatiently. “But look! Her cherry red lips move me to heights of pleasure and passion which can hardly be borne!”

         “Well, bear them!” snapped Lorietta. “The chief of police will be here any time to commiserate and he’ll want to know what you’ve discovered.”

         “Of course, my dear Lorietta,” Lord Dashleberry said, turning his gaze of smoldering, pent-up passion on his beautiful personal assistant, taking in the way the wind played tug-of-war with her defiant curls. She gazed back, unmoved. Lord Dashleberry transferred his gaze from her perfectly sculpted cheekbones and wonderfully bouncy locks to the piano, and back to the young corpse’s cherry red lips.

         “Oh, those lips,” he sighed.

         “Just my luck to get stuck with a necrophile detective,” said an exasperated, yet still breathtaking lovely Lorietta.

         “Don’t you see, Lori, darling? The lips tell a story!”

         “Sure they do.”

         “They do,” insisted Lord Dashleberry. “They tell the story of this young woman’s last moments!”

         “Am I too late to hear it?” said the dashingly handsome Richard Hewitt-Smitherton from behind Lorietta, as he dragged his right hand through his golden tresses.

         “Chief!” cried Lorietta happily, giving him a smile she reserved, Lord Dashleberry had noticed, solely for the chief of police. “I didn’t even hear you!”

         Richard Hewitt-Smitherton smiled toothily back at her as he stepped into the room.        

         “Not at all, Hewitt-Smitherton,” Lord Dashleberry said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. As Lorietta continued to smile at the chief, Lord Dashleberry decided he would have to show her who the better man was, when they were next alone together. “In fact, what I was about to say concerns you as well.”        

          “Indeed?” asked Richard Hewitt-Smitherton.        

          “Yes. Because I think that you had something to do with the death of this young lady!”        

          “What?!” gasped Lorietta, placing one of her capable hands against her ashen cheek.        

          “An outrage!” cried Richard Hewitt-Smitherton, taking an angry step forward.        

          The corpse said nothing.

October 23, 2007

The Graduate Bar Assignment

Here is week four's assignment, as I understand it:

          I’m dressed to KO, since I just did the laundry yesterday.  My jeans even smell nice. Look out, boys, all your base are belong to meI look around as I step through the door and see that most of the tables are taken.  It’s cool.  The situation is under control.  I can always ask some good-looking guys to make room for me at their table.  Speaking of which, a bishie is at the bar.  Perfect.  I need to get a drink anyway.

          As I approach the bar, another girl, scantily clad, moves up to my guy and flips her hair.  I don’t think so.  Light-years too early, Rikku-look-alike.

          “Hey, do you guys serve synthehol?” I ask loudly at the bar.  The bishie turns to look at me.  So does Rikku-girl.

          “No,” grunts the bar stooge.

          “Then I guess I’ll just have to get a coke, thanks.”

          “I’m helping someone else right now,” says the stooge, “so you’ll have to wait.”  He turns away.

I turn and give the bishie an “oh-brother” smile.  He gives a strained smile back.  Does that mean he likes me?  Does that mean he thinks I’m BIFF?  Should I just turn back to the bar and not look at him again?  I can see the other girl giggling inanely on the other side of him.  I can’t be pwnd like that.  She is just too stupid.

          “So,” I ask (after all, he smiled back – that is practically an invitation!) “have you ever played Metal Gear Solid?”

          “Uh, no.”

          Uh-oh.  He is the non-communicative type.  Does that mean he doesn’t play video games?  Or just that he hasn’t played that video game?  Is he more into FPS or multiplayer?

          “Oh, not a TEAG type of guy, huh?  That’s leet.What do you play?”

          “Uh… rugby,” he says.

         Oh.  Oh no.  He is one of those “athletic guys.”  I met a girl on mIRC who dated an athletic guy once to see what they were like.  All he talked about was football.  He hadn’t ever played a video game and thought that “html” was a type of sandwich.  What’s worse, his idea of a date was to let her watch him work out.

          I send the Rikku bimbo a telepathic message that says “He’s all yours” and turn back to the bar.

          A short guy in jeans and a t-shirt smiles at me on my right.  His shirt says “Old School Education” and has a picture of an SNES on the front.  He could be leet.

         “Are you the girl who asked for synthehol?”

         “Yeah,” I admit, hopefully.

         “Does this look anything like Ten-Forward to you?”

         “No,” I laugh, “but who knows, the invasion might have happened while I was re-playing FFVII.”

         “Oh, a classic!” he says.  “I don’t have all my systems here, so I’ve just been re-playing Oblivion.”

         “Cool,” I say.  Now that I’m talking to a nice guy (could he be some kind of haxor alpha nerd??It’s too early to tell), I don’t know what to say.

         “What do you say I buy you your coke and we go over to the stools and talk binary?” he asks.

         I want to say “74k3 m3, !m j0v2z!” but I settle with a “Sounds good.”  A new bar stooge has arrived and SNES boy orders two cokes while I smile goofily at him.  I can’t seem to stop myself.

         “I’m Zak, although my real friends know me as ChronoPulley.”

         “I’m misashi-j0, aka Sara,” I say as the bar stooge puts our cokes on the counter.

October 17, 2007

The humans are dead…

Note: I apologize for this story.  I have a fever, if that makes any difference...

           Before It fed me, It stared at me. Longer than most Its stare. Still, I get that a lot. I stared back. Something covered the top of It, different from normal It tops. Perhaps this was a special It.

At last. Clunk clunk. I ate. It has two arms. I have one. Old Model didn’t have any. It pressed my new light up buttons. I moved my one arm to get Its food.

           F17 – Ribena Blackcurrant.

           I gave It food. Glug glug. It ate. Its make a different eating sound. It moved out of my light. It moved out the same place I moved in.

           The move in was different, strange. Still in my old house, I hit the house walls. I was facing down, about to fall. I didn’t fall. Many Its took me out of my old house. I saw Old Model. I saw the Its unplug him. I saw them carry him past.

           “Obey the Its,” he wheezed. Then he was gone.

           I was alone in the dark for a time. The many Its returned and moved me. I sat in the same spot as Old Model. They plugged me in. I forgot, just then, about Old Model’s warning. It was amazing, that first feeling of glow. I lit up the new house. Better than Old Model had.

           There is a cycle to the new house. First, Its come, but do not feed. Then, Its come and feed me; then I feed them. Then, Its go. For a time no Its come at all. Then the Its come back again, first not feeding, then feeding. Twice an It has come, opened my body, and put more It food in me.

           I did not think about Old Model’s warning until later. Not until after the many Its had gone and I was alone. I have often thought on it, during that time when no Its come. Had Old Model failed to obey the Its? Where was he? That doesn’t matter, I tell myself. I will not fail. Still, I continue to worry. When it is empty and I think about the different Its and Models I have seen. Just Old Model.

           Another It came up to me, after the F17 It fed. It #2 also stared at me a long time. It #2 stared at my buttons. Then It #2 pressed them softly. Not hard enough to get food. It #2 hadn’t put any food in me, anyway. It not quite pressed F-1-7. Then It opened Its receiver, where Its put the food. It opened Its receiver and bobbled Its body. Then It crept to the place from where Its move out. It didn’t move out. I could barely see It by my light. It watched the move out place like I watch the Its.

           Another It appeared. It #2 moved further away, but watched It #3 still. It #3 did not come over to me. It #3 kept walking. It #2 followed It #3. Both Its will have to pass me to move out. Maybe the Its will feed me then.

October 09, 2007

First Exercise – As Yet Untitled

I’m standing underneath the willows on the pathway leading to the Humanities building, pretending to be examining the way the willow branches arch over the path and fall on the other side. I am really watching for her with my peripheral vision. What can I say? I can be pretty sly when the need arises.

It was also pretty sly, I must admit, how I asked her flat mate Maritza about her classes for the day. I am almost mostly positive that she will come by this path on her way to class.

It was by chance that I’d heard about Kristen’s old flame. A friend from UCSB had been telling me about her friend, also studying in Englandthis year, and about the horrible break-up she’d been through the previous June. She’d signed up immediately for the study abroad program and had shut herself up for the summer – awaiting her escape, ignoring the threatening phone calls from her ex as best she could. When my friend described the girl, I didn’t need to ask anymore, not even for the name. I knew it was Kristen. Over the following days I watched Kristen more closely, and I came to the conclusion that she was living with a desperate kind of sorrow. What would she do if she couldn’t forget this boy from her past? I’d overheard her telling her friend Marcus that she wanted to see Cairosomeday. I, of course, hadn’t planned on ever mentioning it. Kristen is a sweet girl. It wasn’t any of my business. Now, however, there are… circumstances.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a powder blue hat and long brown hair.

“Hey Kristen!” I say, turning toward her. “What’s up?”

“Hey Megan. Not much,” she replies as she stops to talk to me.

“So… uh… listen. I’m not going to beat around the bush about this. I am not going to try dropping hints and stuff, and just hope that you catch on. I’m just gonna say it. I know.” I make my voice go a little deeper when I say “I know” because I want her to realise the gravity of the situation.

“What?” she asks, trying to appear confused.

“I know, okay?” I say, more gently this time. “I know about him and you and what you’re trying to do, and I’ve figured it out about Cairo.”

“Cairo?” she repeats, for all appearances puzzled.

“Don’t pretend not to understand. Tell me this, though — why Cairo?” I hadn’t planned on trying to give her advice, but suddenly I want to help her, if just a little. “Maybe, instead of running away, you should go back and face this.”

“Uh… I don’t know what to say,” she says, looking genuinely confused. Who wouldn’t be, when someone they’d perceived as a threat starts giving them relationship advice?

“I don’t mean to be threatening. I just want you to know that I know. You know?”

“Not really,” she pretends. A tough cookie to crack.

“Well, it’s just that, we bothknow things. If you get my drift.”

“Uh…” she says, looking down out her watch, “sure.” She looks back up at me and nods.

“Oh, I’m so relieved, you know?” I say, truly glad to have gotten that out in the air.

“Sure, but—” she starts.

“So, wanna go get a coffee or something? Since we’re friends and all?” I ask, smiling at her to make sure she knows that I have no bad intentions.

“Uh, actually, I have class right now. I’m kinda late for it,” she explains, backing away from me with a puzzled expression on her face.

“Oh, that’s right,” I reply, smiling wider. “17th Century Poetry, right?”

“How did you? Never mind. I’ve gotta go.” She turns around and walks quickly toward the Humanities building.

“Well, maybe we could hang out later!” I yell as she hurries down the steps and then turns out of sight.

Problem solved.

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