Monthly Archives: October 2016

Daily prompt: Eerie

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eerie/”>Eerie</a&gt;

“It’s Erie, not eerie,” she said dismissively.

“I’m pretty sure it’s Eerie. The Eerie Canal. It’s mainly used by recreational witchcraft now, I read it in Wikipedia.”

“Watercraft. It’s used by recreational watercraft.”

“Don’t be silly. What the hell is watercraft, anyway? It said Witchcraft, I’m sure. And also, opponents were executed in 1808 and buried there.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I read it. And also, the guy who built it went bankrupt and died in an insane asylum.”

“Oh for god sake.”

“Seriously. And Jefferson called it madness and also Clinton was involved.”

“Wait, what? Clinton wasn’t even alive then.”

“She was. She was the Governor of New York and they called the Eerie Canal Clinton’s Folly. So yeah, she was there all right.

And then there were the Irish. This whole Catholic conspiracy and of course the Witches hated that and there were riots, but somehow the thing got built. But not before the Irish put a curse on it.”

“Good lord.”

“I know, right? So there were leaks and structural problems and then also, the Railway system bought it and then they went bankrupt too.”

“But you make it sound like a disaster. It was a success. Why do you make it sound like such a disaster?”

“Well, maybe it was a success, but it was also a disaster. The Eerie Canal is haunted, everyone connected to it died, went insane or bankrupt, Clinton is at the center of it, and nowadays it’s only used by recreational witches. You tell me: which story is more interesting?”

“I give up.”

“Because I’m right.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

Daily prompt: Bridge

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bridge/”>Bridge</a&gt;

I once went out with a guy named Jeff Bridge. Not Bridges, because then he would have been Jeff Bridges and that would have been a different situation altogether. I mean, I’m pretty sure Jeff Bridges would have  caught a clue. So he wasn’t that Jeff but this other Jeff and really, I liked him ok. He was a nice guy. I was a baby lesbian, not entirely committed but definitely headed in that direction and I assume that whole thing may have had some bearing on our eventual breakup.

But really, it was his pretty obvious long term view of our…well, what to call it. I wasn’t advanced enough to call it Our Relationship. I was just a regular old extreme-introvert who had no relationship to speak of with the word Relationship or anything else so using it to describe what we shared never would have struck me. Jeff seemed to be around, is how I thought of it, and then we sometimes were around together at a movie. Or a beer. It strikes me now that we were likely around together more than that but I have no recollection of it.

So, the obvious long term view thing. It mystified me, since as far as I could tell, we were just hanging around. I suspect that In the absence of my actual presence in the around-ness we shared, he may have felt free to simply make stuff up. Stuff about Us. Stuff about our long term potential. Of which there was next to nothing and I knew that, duh, but he didn’t and I couldn’t imagine he didn’t know something so painfully obvious, and so nothing was shared on that very important discussion point.

It seemed to me like Jeff Bridge was always making plans about a thing that didn’t exist. Until finally, I sort of remember a conversation involving his family and the dinner we would all share and I started laughing. Snorting beer up my nasal cavities, uncontrollably laughing. It was like watching a movie, a really funny movie, Jeff and me, his baby lesbian girlfriend, hanging around together at the dinner table with the Bridge family. Ludicrous, really.

Soon after, he stopped calling. I felt sort of bad for a while. Not that he stopped calling, but that he had all those weird ideas. People make all kinds of stuff up and at some point you’re like, What? And, seriously, it’s downhill from there.

Daily prompt: rearrange

Rearrange
Oh, here, let me completely rearrange my life for you. My expectations. My own explicit desires and requirements. Because I want to make sure that the remodel project you were hired for, that each part that you agreed to, saying, yeah, I can do that, no problem—remember that discussion?—I want to make sure that you are not being forced to do something you don’t know how to do. Or that you feel uncomfortable doing. Because that would just be cruel.

Because at the end of this whole thing, if it ends up looking like what you can do vs. what we asked for? Well, I totally understand. I can adjust. Not a problem. Are we good? good.

(this public rant has been brought to you by me who is really really tired of hearing what the contractor can’t do after assuring me he could.)

Daily prompt: banned

Banned

The day they banned the t-shirt I’d printed up for a couple dozen friends at college—an angry squirrel flipping his middle finger at the world, UofD emblazoned on his chest—I went back to the print studio straight away and whipped up a hundred more.

Plus, they were good looking, right? Angry orange squirrel against a royal blue background? It was nothing if not true to our team, our school colors, our collective disgust with the usual idiot depiction of a busy little squirrel—a squirrel! Who has a squirrel mascot? That little buddy was crying out to reinvent himself, and I was was the one to help him.

Banned? Works for me. It was the best lesson I learned in school and the case history I used for my psych paper, for which I got an A, thank you very much. There is no faster path to cult status and product desire, my friend. I doubt I would have been able to cover my tuition costs if it hadn’t been for the powers-that-be gnashing their teeth over my righteously angry squirrel.

#dailyprompt

Daily prompt: transformation

Transformation
It wasn’t a big thing, just an emissions test, just another thing on my to-do list for the day. Except it had to happen today, because I waited too long and only had a few days left before my car tabs expired. On the way, crossing the bridge in my good old Jetta, I started thinking about what would happen if she failed the test? I mean, I got her almost 20 years ago! She runs fine, I take good care of her, but who knows! Maybe she’s finished and I don’t even know it. I’d have to buy a new car, I can’t afford a new car, but maybe now is when I ditch the car entirely and start riding a bike. But I could get hit, I could get killed in this traffic. The traffic in this town gets every day.

And then suddenly for some weird reason, I’m thinking about the GRE test I took a zillion years ago so I could get into grad school. The test was really important. And I was going to fail, no question about it. I studied, I practiced but I knew: it was only a matter of time before I started my new life as a loser, a nobody and a nothing, a GRE disaster. Every day the test loomed larger and larger in my mind until it absorbed every waking thought—it was my future, my life! Soon I found myself drinking wine, a lot of wine, just to make the noise in my head go away for a little while, and it worked. The night before the test I had to polish off all the wine I had until finally, gratefully, I passed out. The next morning I woke up slumped on the couch, drooling, a deadening hangover pummeling my brain. The clock showed I had 45 minutes to get to the test.

Well, I made it to the test, I suppose. I suppose you could say that. God, that was so long ago and here I was, taking the 4th ave exit to get my emissions test, fear welling up inside me, my stomach churning and my hands trembling on the steering wheel. I could feel my heart racing. What the heck was going on? I headed out to run errands and then, boom, some transformation, some weird space/time slip-up took over. I was filled with dread as I pulled into line behind a dozen other newer, better cars that probably had no emissions at all. Beautiful, magic cars with excellent, competent drivers.

I closed my eyes and breathed, feeling my butt in this familiar old leather seat, my hands easing up, resting lightly on the steering wheel. A tiny wave of relief rippled through me, and I relaxed. It was just a silly old test, everything is okay, I told myself. When I opened my eyes, the line had moved and I eased into position. I was up next.

 

Daily prompt: tiny

 
Tiny

When I think back, the whole thing is a blur. Seriously: a blur. Notable because I’m pretty observant but at time like this….well Heathrow is a world unto itself, right? And there I was, waiting amidst a thousand other weary travelers just like me, anxious to get through customs, unintelligible announcements blaring overhead. My brain must have just gone offline, refusing to absorb any more of this tiresome mix of noise and tension and tedium.

So: one big bureaucratic blur except for this bizarre thing, this bright tiny detail. The woman in the next line, a few steps ahead of me—she held something in her hand and it caught my attention. Whatever it was glinted in the light, like a shiny metal edge but way more intense, unearthly and brilliant, a white light full of color like a crystal but much, much sharper.  It seemed to go directly into the center of my brain. What was it? I’ll never know, because her line moved ahead while mine stood still, and the light disappeared. I cocked my head so I might catch it again but all I saw was her charming smile as she handed the customs officer her passport, nodding, making small talk and then in an instant she was on her way, high heels clicking smartly down the corridor.

Daily prompt: Millions

Millions

I mean, just think of it: who could even count how many leaves fall all over the world in autumn. Billions of leaves, bright yellow and brassy gold, carmine red and burnt orange, each and every one brilliant against a deep blue sky. Here, in this tiny town alone, in this deep ravine with the its huge old trees, millions of leaves spinning and drifting in the gusty autumn winds. Millions!

autumn_leaves_5-t2

Daily Prompt: Ancient

Ancient

“But she’s a witch, Mom—I don’t wanna go!”

“She’s not a witch honey. And every soccer team she’s coached ends up at the championship. Google it, you’ll see.”

“She doesn’t even look like a soccer coach. Her clothes are crazy, her hair is wild. Plus, she’s ancient Mom—she’s way older than you! She’ll probably be dead before the season is over.”

“Thank you dear.”

“No, but really! She’s got whiskers, Mom! Why can’t we have our other coach?”

“Because he’s gone. He’s gone and no one can find him, and seriously sweetheart, I think we’re pretty lucky. You need to google this coach because her record is….”

“Coach Agnes? Agnes? Jules said she’s not playing for a witch and neither am I.”  Alexis threw herself down heavily on the sofa and let her backpack slide to the floor with a thud.  Her mom went about collecting her soccer gear and clothes, glancing at her watch.

“Up!” She said, grabbing her daughter’s hand, pulling the dead weight up off the couch. “Come on, I don’t want to be late.”

“But—“

“No buts, in the car, missy.”

Later Alexis stood sullenly, one hip jutting out, arms crossed tightly across her chest. She still didn’t have her team shirt on. Or her shoes. In fact, she looked like she was ready for the mall. The other girls on the team were half-heartedly going through their warm ups. And now the “Coach” was heading straight for the girl, her long, skinny shadow preceding her, step by step closer, finally enveloping Alexis in darkness. She shivered and looked up at the old lady, trying to hide her fear with a dismissive sneer. It didn’t work.

“I hear you think I’m a witch. Maybe more witch than Coach, yes?”

Alexis narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips. She wasn’t going to give in.

Coach Agnes snorted. “Ha. I’ve dealt with your type a thousand time before, girlie. So let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”  Coach looked over her shoulder and back at Alexis, leaning in closer. Alexis could smell her sulphur breath. “I win championships, okay? You girls haven’t won a championship in…oh, I don’t know,” the old lady snapped her fingers, old reptile eyes sparking. “Oh wait! Never. Not EVER! And I don’t like that, do you?”

Alexis found herself shaking her head no. And somewhere inside her she realized she really didn’t like it. She really didn’t like losing all the time.

“No, I didn’t think so. So here I am, and just in time. You girls don’t know how lucky you are.”

“But you don’t look like a coach or act like one, you’re too old and too…”

“Ancient, yes I know. Enough of that, Alexis,” she said, resting her arthritic hand on the girl’s shoulder. Alexis felt some strange surge of energy seeping into her, felt her resistance just slipping away and even more astonishing, felt a tiny spark of excitement taking its place.

“You…you really think we could win?”

“No, sweetheart,” said the witch, laying her arm across Alexis’ shoulders, urging her onto the field. “I KNOW we can win.” The old lady laughed, softly at first and then more loudly, a loud cackling laugh that echoed across the field, the parking lot with its SUVs, the nearby parks and neighborhoods, letting everyone know there was a new coach in town.

Underground

Underground
The first thing: he looks out of place. He doesn’t look like a beach person or even a morning person, for that matter. Flak jacket, dingy old green t-shirt with some sort of faded black logo, and serious jeans. Serious, like jeans you wear if you really work—dungarees, hard core. And also he didn’t even meet my eyes when he came in the donut shop, just headed straight for the bathroom. I mean, it’s a donut shop, okay? Just about anyone coming in for donuts in the morning is already in a good mood, already checking in with a conspiratorial sugar-and-fat induced grin, but not this guy.

Comes out of the bathroom, slides into a booth nearby and takes out his phone, hunches over, thumbs a text to someone, god knows who, his drug connection, his gangster friends, his underground terrorist cell. I mean, he’s got dark hair, right? Okay, that’s not right, I know. Things are so crazy, too crazy. People pushing all this paranoid bullshit about who’s a regular american and who’s not, and by their armed-to-the-teeth white male standard, would pretty much mean I’m suspect too, and, oh yeah, also means most of the world. Remember that excellent scene from Being John Malkovich where everyone in the restaurant, everyone, old ladies, kids, everyone looks exactly alike: John Malkovich. Maybe the guys stirring everyone up would actually dig the hell out of that.

So. Here I am, having a donut with my friend, keeping an eye on Flak Jacket because, well, Flak. Jacket. ok? I watch him check his phone again and again, and then go to the bathroom AGAIN. What is up with him? No donut. No coffee. It’s like he’s just waiting for something. What is he waiting for? Suddenly I can’t even hear my friend talking because all I can think about is Flak Jacket! In and out of the bathroom, texting, no donut, no coffee and come on, this is Seattle! No one in Seattle doesn’t drink coffee, which is a double negative, which means Something is Definitely Wrong.

He comes back from the bathroom, sits down at the table and checks his phone. Almost imperceptible nod and a little twitch of a smile. He puts his phone in his pocket, gets up and leaves–whoosh, right out the door! Not a word, not a glance, nada, just leaves and heads west down the street. I’m blown away by this, my head is buzzing with anxiety, when I hear a tiny voice from far away–my friend! Talking about the lecture she went to last night at the university and I realize I haven’t heard more than a word or two. I nod and try to catch up while another part of me expects to hear an explosion down the street, or see cop cars speeding by, or something! Something that might explain what Flak Jacket was doing. I’m sure it was something bad!

Later, as I drive west towards my home, I happen to glance at the big construction site near the beach—one of those monster houses, four or five thousand square feet of glass and steel and who do I see feeding a long bundle of cables into an underground channel that runs under the monster house? Yeah, you guessed it: Flak Jacket. He’s laughing, and flipping shit to whoever’s on the other end of the cable, they’re working, just working a regular old job. And that’s when I think: seriously, maybe it’s time to turn the internet off and come up for air.