Tuesday, March 29, 2011


My hands shake a lot less these days, so that's something.  Can't say as I expect it to last long, though, was a long time ago I stopped accepting good things without expecting something bad to go along with them.  Jen says I need to stop being so pessimistic, though, so I guess I'll bury that thought deep.  She's sleeping now, curled up in the corner of the bed of the truck.  The beauty and softness of her face is so at odds with the chaos that flies by behind her at 60mph.  I want to talk to her, but when someone's sleeping, you don't wake them.  Jeff made that rule, had to be... damn I don't know, 200 days ago now?  Anyways it was a morning like any other, I was the first one to wake up.  I started packing up my sleep kit, and slowly everyone else started to wake up.  Jeff woke, then Justin, Jen pretty soon after.  Julie and Julian got up maybe 20 minutes later, and it was just June, still sleeping.  We must've given him a good 45 minutes longer to sleep, but after that, I mean, we had to get moving, you know?  So Jen goes to wake him up, her face the prettiest, voice the softest.  So she goes real gentle-like, shaking June's shoulder, tellin him to wake on up, we gotta hit the road again.  At first he was just... dead, it seemed.  She started shakin harder, talkin louder, and nothin from June.  Then all of a sudden his eyes just flew open, like she fired a gun next to his ear or something.  He jumped to his feet, screaming bout how all he has left is his sleep, it's the only time he sees his little girl anymore, and how could we take that from him.  Jeff tried to calm him down, tell him we didn't mean anything by it, but June wasn't hearin it.  He just grabbed up his sleep kit and started walking the other direction.  We called after him, Jen especially, yelling she was sorry, begging him to come back, but he just kept goin.  Never saw June after that, and though i hope he's doin well, I know he's not.  Maybe he's with his little girl now, that'd be something.  Anyways, that night when we were laying down to sleep, Jeff said nobody's waking anyone up, ever again.  He said this world's a hard enough place nowadays, and if a man or woman's sleepin, we'll let them sleep, even if it means we wait 2,3, or 4 hours to get the day started.  

I think about that, and look back at Jen.  I wish the rule didn't apply to her, because if anyone seems to be happy enough awake, it's Jen.  Been 2 or 3 years going, and i've still never seen her sad or angry.  Hell, I've never seen Jen anything BUT happy.  When i first met her it was annoying, and I thought it was an act.  You know the people, they think that if they try real hard, pretend to be happy about everything, then they'll actually become happy?  Never works out for em' in the end, and they always end up more bitter and jaded then the rest.  For the first 6 months I knew Jen, I waited.  Every day, I waited for her to crack, for her to finally throw her hands in the air and say what we all already knew: that this world, they finally killed it, and there isn't nothing that's gonna bring it back.  Even Jeff, with all his plans of rounding up a goodly sized group and startin a town, he's gotta know it'll never happen.  So anyways, after about 6 months, it hit me.  I wanted so badly for Jen to crack, for her to cave in to depression, because it bothered me, how happy she always was.  It downright killed me, to see someone who could so easily look past the hopelessness.  Her joy and love of life shined a bright light on how empty of those things I was.  After I realized that, I realized that she would never change.  

Ever since I realized that about myself, I started to take Jen a little more seriously, and I started to really get to know her.  Now she's probably my closest friend out of our little outfit.  I know Jeff doesn't like for us to do that, get close to each other, but I really care for Jen.  You sit and talk to Jen for a while... you forget, is best i can say it.  You don't really 'talk' to Jen.  You listen.  You might say a thing or two, just to get her goin, but the best thing about Jen is that she'll just talk to you.  She likes to talk about before, she likes to talk about her old life.  It's funny, she'll tell the same story over and over, and every time, she tells it like it happened yesterday.  I could listen to Jen talk for hours.  When she's talking, I can close my eyes and forget the day of fire.  I can forget  that we've driven for 28 straight days without seeing a soul, and I can forget that we'll probably go another 28 before we do see someone.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I'll close my eyes while Jen's telling a story, and I imagine that we're just two friends, headin down the highway towards some theme park, or to some great natural attraction.  I'll keep my eyes closed and imagine that there's fields on either side of us, great huge green fields, with cows or horses, houses dotting the hills.  I'll get to where i can actually smell the grass, the scent riding the wind up to my nostrils.  I wanna keep my eyes closed to prolong the fantasy, but i wanna open them, just in case... just in case.  Every time I do it, I open my eyes to see the wasteland, and every time I do it that girl is smiling at me.  She knows exactly what I'm doing, and although she says she doesn't like that I do it, she knows it just makes me sad, I think that secretly it pleases her.  I think it pleases her, knowing that she can talk me into believing none of this ever happened, even if only for a moment.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

another old story

this is another story i wrote maybe ten years ago.  well, this isn't that story exactly, i'm going to try and remember it.

the boy woke up, alert.  It was as if he wasn't even sleeping, the alarm only serving to remind his already active mind that it was time to go.  He slid off his bed, and as he walked towards the bathroom, he absent mindedly counted the steps.  Seven and a half steps later he flicked the light on, and took stock of his appearance.  He grinned at his ruffled hair, his sleepy countenance.  Wetting the palm of his hand, he made to brush some order into his thick, brown hair, but stopped just short of his brow, remembering.  The girl rather liked when his hair was out of place, that's right.  Water dripped onto his chest, and he chuckled a little, thinking of the girl, his girl.  The toothbrush, elevated in its holder, holding court with the toothpaste and the floss, demanded his attention.  He brushed his teeth systematically, counting the seconds as he did.  one hundred and twenty seconds later he rinsed, wiped the water from his mouth with his forearm, and stepped back into the darkened hallway.  The boy went back into his room, dimly lit from without by moonlight streaming through half-closed blinds.  He took a quick inventory.  His bed was not made, but the covers were at least laying flat, giving some semblance of order.  The shoes, neatly stowed beside the door, polished so perfectly as to be almost austere in appearance, were ready.  The briefcase, impatient to be on the way after such a long period of imprisonment in the closet, begged to leave.  He laughed at the thought of briefcases begging for anything, scooped the shoes up, grabbed the briefcase, and walked out the door.  The boy briskly bounded down an 18 step staircase, walked out the front door, and took 11 steps to the car.  Carefully stowing the evening's attire in the trunk, he hopped in the car, checked his mirrors, and drove off into the night.

The girl yawned, and angrily narrowed her eyes at the screaming alarm clock, sitting on a table haflway across the room.  It was a perfect system, having the alarm clock located out of arms reach, but it was ever so irritating, every time that system was put to use.  She flung the covers from her legs, stumbled over to the small black box, cut off it's screech, and brought both her hands to her face.  After a moments hesitation about whether or not to get back in bed, the girl decided that a splash of  water on her face was exactly what she needed.  Arriving at the bathroom, she thought better.  She could read the clock in the reflection of the bathroom mirror.  Yes, 7 minutes was more than enough time.  She turned the knob, and hopped in.  Biting back a curse for not allowing a proper amount of time for the water to heat up, she showered.  12 minutes later she stepped out, a girl transformed.  She glowed, radiant. It was as if light from the bulbs above the mirror went out of its way if only to bounce off of her perfect face, her soft skin.  The girl caught a glimpse of the clock, and gritted her teeth.  Trying to hold back a knowing smile, what came out instead was the twisted grimace of one trying to hold in a laugh so as not to ruin a joke.  She was at the same time angry and pleased.  She was angry that the boy knew her so well that it was likely he purposefully told her to be ready 20 minutes earlier than he intended to leave.  She was similarly pleased, for the very same reason.  The girl was so unlike the boy.  For so long, her foremost priority in life was to forge her own identity, one that was uniquely hers, unknown to anyone. In her mind, the world was a vast oceanfront, the sands of time not falling through the hourglass, but rather being ever swept clean, again, again, and again.  It was her goal to leave an indelible footprint in that sand.  Certainly not one that would be permanent, but one so lasting and deep that it would take years and years of waves to erase it.  In light of all that, it was absolutely frustrating, to know that this boy had come along and so quickly identified her, even her most secret thoughts.  He had a habit of reading her so openly, so deftly, that it terrified her.  She would never let on, though, not even to him.  To know that she knew him equally as well, though, that was cause for a smile.  The girl caught herself blushing in the mirror.  Furious with herself, she threw open the closet door, and reviewed the three dresses she was considering for the evening.  8 chaotic minutes later, she was out the door.

(gonna finish this later)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

half remembered story

I'm going to try to write here a story that i wrote years and years ago.  it's not even a complete story, like most of the things i've written over the years it's only the beginning of something, the first page, if you will.  perhaps this time i'll flesh this out in its entirety.

The train shot forward, and my thoughts drifted to memories of her....

her beauty was so simple to me. it was not the type of beauty that gave men pause.  No artists would ever paint portraits of her, no women would ever remark on the quality of her genes or the softness of her complexion.  No, her beauty was a quiet, simple thing that to me, was only  amplified by its simplicity.  I remember meeting her.  Rather, I remember first seeing her, she across the cafe, her auburn hair loosely tied in a ponytail.  the ribbon holding it together was loosely tied, and looked to be loosening, almost as if it shared my opinion that hair so glorious should never be pent up.  She was laughing, smiling, laughing.  A hand brought up to her face to brush away a rebellious strand of hair.  the hand dropping now, stopping to rest in the crook of her elbow.  It was clear she worked here, a waitress to the early morning crowd of retirees that populated this Parisian cafe.  Her smile was refreshing though.  It was not the perfunctory smile afforded patrons by most waitresses, cashiers, and grocers. You know the smiles, the ones that are almost condescending in their superficiality.  No, this was a most genuine smile, it was clear that she was truly pleased to be speaking with whomever it was, right then, right there.  This was certainly a girl that found occasion to smile every day, maybe every hour. 

Even now, months afterwards, I wonder how different things might have been, had I the courage and boldness to speak to her that day.  Would meeting 18 hours earlier have had any affect on the course of events to follow?  Would we still have found ourselves on that park bench, on that most wretched of nights?  I fear the what ifs, the if onlys, the could haves would have should haves are starting to devour me my mind my heart my soul my my my dear my darling girl.  you were so simply and wondrously and beautifully, wonderfully luminous.  why, why, why?

(a note:  this is something i plan to develop, and i'm quite aware that there are conflicting tenses in this story, but eh.)

maybe the beginning of something

Summer was so named because of the character of the day on which she was born.  It was a glorious summer day.  The kind of day you'd swear had sweet smelling air, if only because the joy that suffuses beautiful summer days is so sweet.  The wind was blowing that day, blowing hard enough that it whipped through the window of the small one room shack and snatched the blanket that little ruth was holding up right out of her hands.  She made to chase it, clearly stressed that the one small thing she'd been give to do to help out with the birth of her sister had proven too much for her to handle.  Mama, sweat stained from brow to bosom, hollered through her clenched teeth that Ruthie could leave it, because if she was stressing about one daughter breaking a leg while bringing another into the world, lord knows the baby would be born a worry wart.  Mama, on her back about to give birth and still ordering people to and fro.  I know papa was only too happy to let her to it, him wringing his hands anxiously just outside the door, every now and again calling inside, asking 'anyfin i can help ya'll with?' the whole time praying there was no need for him.  It was always curious to me, how papa could slaughter pigs, deer, and chickens and not bat an eyelash, but would faint dead away at just the mention of childbirth.  And not just that.  I remember one time bobby was climbin that dead magnolia tree in the back, he only was climbin it on account of mama and papa were at a weddin that day, they'd beat him silly just for lookin at it like-un he was fittin to climb.  anyways, he climbed up too high, stepped on a branch that'd swayed just a time too many, and it snapped right under his foot.  he fell a good 12 or 14 feet, and would you know that very branch that broke under his foot stabbed him right through his leg, as if the tree wanted to get his revenge for having his branch broke.  It musta stuck up an outta him a good 3 or 4 inches.  Boy, to look at daddy that night you'd a thought bobby'd grown a third leg, not stabbed one of em.  You could tell daddy was tryin real hard to be daddy-like, tryin to fuss bobby out for 'climbin that durn tree,' but the whole while he was lookin at everthin else but bobby, so it looked like he was fussin  at ruth, me, and mama out for climbin the tree.