(Thirty days, thirty stories, three thousand words. It has been a pretty hectic month, and although I cannot say that my writing has been anywhere near brilliant, I am pretty proud of myself for actually reaching the end here. I think I’ll do this again next year because, frankly, this has been really fun.
I’ve always loved stories by people on the other side of things – murderers, thieves, the unfaithful, the deceivers. I think it’s because I’ve always been the quintessential why-kid, and their sides have always been neglected in some way or another. This is my way of understanding.)
The blinds are half-open – a car’s headlights shine through, painting the room in vivid stripes of light and dark. I laugh under my breath. It is a ‘prisoner’ room – how fitting.
He groans in his sleep, and I look at his face. His brow furrowed, his jaw clenched – the sleep of a troubled man.
Troubled, innocent, cruel, lonely, romantic, insane – I have seen them all. Though all are different, they are also the same – they look for me, and that can be for one reason only.
It is so that they may escape, while I lie trapped under their weight.
(I was feeling pretty down when I wrote this. Forgive me.)
The sun is out, but there are enough clouds to prevent one from getting skin cancer. Children are playing outside – not one of them is crying. The neighbors are having a cookout – potluck, so nobody gets left out.
Even the birds are singing in that insanely Snow White way of theirs.
It is a beautiful day in suburbia, Rick muses, looking out his window.
A butterfly comes fluttering in, carried by the soft breeze. He extends his hand out, and there it is, the beautiful creature, perched on his finger.
He sighs softly.
It is the perfect day to disappear.
(This started out as a joke I made once. Now, it’s this insanity. It’s one of those things I wish you could hear instead of see.)
Hello. Welcome to Virtual Party. Please say your name and the party you would like to attend.
“Mark Santos, for Jessica –“
You have reached: Jesse Khan’s party.
“No, I –“
“Who the hell are you?”
“Sorry, er, wrong party.”
Party terminated. Would you like to attend another party?
Please say –
“Mark Santos, for Jessica Montenegro’s party.”
You have reached: Jessica Montenegro’s party.
“Mark! You made it!”
“Hey Jess… I won’t be long. I just wanted to say that I think you’re amazing, and that I’m in lo-“
Your conversation has been interrupted by Jamie Fernandez. Please hold.
(I guess I wanted something a bit different this time.)
She is seventeen, he is eighteen, and they are waiting for the results of third test.
“I guess it is pretty definitive at this point,” he says.
“Yeah,” she replies. “So, I’m…”
Sean holds Ella’s hand.
She takes a deep breath. “We have to decide where to get an –“
“Eric,” Sean says in an odd voice.
“Eric. It’s a good name.” A goofy smile spreads on his face.
“This isn’t – “
“It’s a good name.”
“For Superman, maybe, not anybody else!”
He laughs, she laughs, and it is hours before they remember the blue stick.
(I have been reading a lot of articles on the Cannes Film Festival lately, and somehow We Need to Talk About Kevin just burrowed into something at the back of my brain. It wasn’t until I read about Beautiful Boy – coming out this June in the States – that ‘something’ became this story.)
She remembered a time when he was a boy, when he was all freckles and golden hair, when he had knocked out his two front teeth chasing after his brothers. She remembered him as the child, the one who hugged her fiercely and buried his head in her neck as the storm raged outside. He was the one who tapped the kitchen window as she was washing the dishes, the one who was brighter than the sun.
Where had he gone?
“I’m here, Mom,” the man says, in response to unspoken words, as they touch hands through the thick glass.
(Another story I sorely wish had been a scene in a film instead. It would have made a lot more sense, and it would have been – in my opinion – a bit more poignant. Oh well.)
“What are you thinking of?”
It was quiet as the boardwalk slowly emptied itself of people.
I turned to him.
“Someone I knew.”
He laughed. “Come on now. You’ve got to give me more than that.”
“He was not handsome. He was not unforgettable. He was not rich. He was not famous. He was not particularly smart, funny, charming or confident. He was not everything I wanted, but he was the man I loved.”
“Who was he?”
“He was you.”
I laid a hand on his cheek, then, and kissed him on the lips before I said goodbye.
(This one is for the kid who dived under our car to hide from his pursuers, in case that was not hide and seek.)
If Johnny were older, this matter would have been settled in the courtroom. There would have been a judge and a jury of his peers. He would calmly present the evidence he collected with the help of a competent lawyer. They would nod solemnly, amidst the objections of the opposition (all denied), and after a quick recess, the verdict would be in his favor – either a gigantic settlement or a minimum of seven years in prison would do.
But he was a kid, and things like this were settled in the playground.
He put his hands up as they laughed.